Thursday, January 1, 2009

January 1, 2009 - Columbian Square, South Weymouth, Massachusetts

Ooh, an immediate test, I love it. The snow that started yesterday during my walk at Bare Cove Park piled up quickly, and our neighborhood hit the jackpot. There it was on the local news: South Weymouth, ten inches, the local snowfall champion of December 31, 2008. That meant before I got my walk in today, I had some work to do. I shoveled that snow for two and a half hours before I could get the car out of the driveway. The thermometer read 21 degrees Fahrenheit, but the wind chill made it feel like ten.

The car, though, was not in the plans . I started walking from home and headed for Columbian Square, the great crossroads of South Weymouth. It's a poorly designed crossroads, though, and walking to and through it gave me a new perspective on it. On a normal day, cars are coming from numerous directions, and just driving through it is taking your life in your hands. Storefronts? Ha! Forget it. Other than our favorite pizza place, I couldn't tell you the name of any store at the intersection. There's no time to look around while trying to avoid collisions.

In fact, the only person I saw when I reached the square today was a man hustling from that pizza place to his car with a large pizza in his hands. I lost track of time while shoveling, and didn'trealize it was lunch time. There was nobody heading for the Cameo Theater. An ambulance slipped through the square with its lights flashing, headed for South Shore Hospital. The Fogg Library was perfectly encased in snow, not a single footprint approaching it.

The world was otherwise silent as I hit the side streets for the walk back. I started to wonder what the first wild critter of the year would be. I was twenty-five minutes into my walk before a shadow flashed across the snow in front of me. I spun my head and looked skyward: a ring-billed gull. Figures. The great winged scavengers of the urban landscape. Two pigeons followed soon thereafter.

I was on Reed Street, just minutes from home, when the smell of a wood-burning stove hit me. Now that, that brings back memories. When I was just seven years old, after the Blizzard of '78 forced us out of our Hull home (we lost power, and therefore heat), my parents bought a stove for our den. Thirty years on, my mother still uses it. For a brief moment, I was seven again. Baseball cards, hot chocolate, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, Gi Joe, carrying loads of wood into the house...

Getting indoors again today was certainly welcome. I had been stopped by one man shoveling his driveway, who just had to ask, "Kind of a crazy day for a walk, huh?"

"Gotta start somewhere."

Time: 41 minutes

Other accomplishments: cleared the driveway, wrote a chapter in my latest manuscript, read thirty more pages in The Great Gypsy Moth War (projected, but attainable).

New wildlife for 2009: Ring-billed gull, rock pigeon, downy woodpecker, European starling.

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