Operation Snowicane

My sympathies go out to those under the onslaught of Operation Snowicane 2011.  The weather in the midwest is brutal right now, and Chicago is having its worst blizzard in quite some years.

I however enjoyed a balmy 60 degrees in San Francisco, with clear blue skies and a lot of sun.  I’m not rubbing it in.  That’s a nice day this time of year.

I was inspired by the blizzard and my memories of snowfall in Chicago.  So I give to you another iteration of the Daily Chronicles

 

The Daily Chronicles – Silenced

by Matthew T Maenpaa

Snow fell in heavy, wet flakes from an ash gray sky. Standing on my front lawn, the snow already up to my ankles, I had to squint to protect my eyes from the wind. They were calling it the Blizzard of the Century, though it struck me as a misnomer. It was barely even the beginning of the second decade of the century. But the media, they do love hyperbole.

I would have been holed up safe inside the house, only the dogs don’t care if its a blizzard when they need to do their business. I could faintly hear them barking over the roar of the forty miles-per-hour wind that swept northwestern Chicago. I lit a cigarette, watching the vague shape of dogs run amok in the park next to my house. Indoors, safe and warm, my wife tended to our child. She was two years old, old enough to be amazed by snow, and I could see her tiny face pressed against the windowpane. She waved to me and I waved back.

I closed my eyes, feeling the snow settling in small drifts on my shoulders. Traffic had slowed, most people getting home by the time the first six inches stuck. Living on the outskirts of the city, we didn’t get a lot of traffic but you could still here I-94 rush by. Now all you could hear were the wind and the dogs, the occasional shriek of terrified delight from a child that got pegged by a snowball.

The roar of the wind grew, whistling and battering the window panes long after I’d gone inside, long after the dogs had curled in a pile by the fireplace. We went to sleep early, bundled under blankets, kept warm by a small child and three dogs. I woke first, extracting myself from the tangle of limbs and finding my slippers. The dogs followed me, eager for breakfast and to go for a run.

I put on the pot of coffee, listening to the choking cough of the percolator, the wheeze of steam that let me know it was done. The sounds of the morning ritual, only something was missing. I peered out the kitchen window but it was too frosted over to see through. After refilling the dogs’ water and food, I poured the coffee and went to the front door to fetch the paper. The sense of oddness stuck with me, only drawing a realization as I opened the door. Snow had banked up past the outer door, up to the pane of glass. A blanket of snow four feet deep had covered the city, and that was the odd thing.

There was no roar of wind, no honk of horns. The distant rumble and rush of the highway was not muted, but gone entirely. The sun bloomed on the horizon, igniting a crystalline blue sky. Only a few prints of wildlife dotted the deep snow. The blizzard silenced the noise of the city, buried it under the snow. I stood for a moment, my breath steaming the air along with the tight curls that spiraled upward from the coffee mug in my hand. The peace and the stillness, that was what had struck me. For that moment, however long it would last, we were the only people in the city. The only sound of life were the birds, and the sound of the dogs devouring their breakfast. When I let them out to run, the stillness would be done. The snow would be marred.

I breathed deep, the cold air filling my lungs, a satisfying shock better than any rush of nicotine. The moment was forever bound in the prism of memory, the beauty of winter along with its brutality. The clatter of claws on hardwood brought me back to the world as three dogs pushed past me to bound through the snow, forgetting that they’d ever seen snow in their lives. I sighed and smiled, donning my snow gear to go after them.

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