21 December 2010

Walking Through the Cold and Wet

Stuck in this chair all day. I like what I do, but after a full day of it I need to get out. Kids are gone. Nothing much happens Tuesday nights. I need to move, breathe fresh air. It's dark and wet and blustery outside. I pull on a sweater, jeans, and my thick grey overcoat, and venture out.

Clouds overhead reflect back the glow of city lights. Streets wet, drizzling mist in the air. Traffic's light, night is quiet. Air fresh and clean. Christmas lights glint here and there through the trees, up and down the streets. Breezes gust, blow more leaves off the trees to skid and scrape along the sidewalk. I wish I could walk all night long. Soaking in the shiny, misty, cool, fresh tranquility.

Lines from T.S. Eliot, the greatest sage of the 20th Century, come to mind. His "Rhapsody on a Windy Night." Lines like this:

Twelve o'clock.
Along the reaches of the street
Held in a lunar synthesis,
Whispering lunar incantations
Dissolve the floors of memory
And all its clear relations,
Its divisions and precisions.
Every street lamp that I pass
Beats like a fatalistic drum,
And through the spaces of the dark
Midnight shakes the memory . . .

Half past three,
The lamp sputtered,
The lamp muttered in the dark. . .
The reminiscence comes
Of sunless dry geraniums
And dust in crevices,
Smells of chestnuts in the streets,
And female smells in shuttered rooms,
And cigarettes in corridors
And cocktail smells in bars.

The lamp said,
Four o'clock,
Here is the number on the door.
You have the key,
The little lamp spreads a ring on the stair.
The bed is open; the toothbrush hangs on the wall,
Put your shoes at the door, sleep, prepare for life.

The last twist of the knife."

I love paradox and Eliot captures it so well.

I stop at the local bakery for some orange almond biscotti to have with morning tea. Then the grocery store for some grapes and Stilton for lunch. A cold breeze billows my coat as I walk slowly under the lights hung from the palm trees that seem so out of place in this weather; they should be pines. But those are further down the sidewalk, the few Christmas trees still left on the sidewalk outside the drug store. Especially fragrant just after the rain. And on up the hill, homeward, past the dim street lamps and the memories of going hand in hand with absent children along those same paths. They'll be back. So I wait, and enjoy walks on rainy nights.

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