Monday, December 23, 2019


If you pick up a box of corn starch, mostly full, and carefully knead it with your fingers you can simulate the sound of footsteps in the snow. If you are not one of those households that have a mostly full box of corn starch, then you are out of luck. If you don't know what footsteps in the snow sound like, then you may have a bigger problem.
Riding my bike to school over the past week there was wind, and rain. The temperature hung in the low fifties. I was briefly grateful for the essentially monochromatic weather scheme offered here in the Bay Area. We don't have snow days. Last year we did have a day where the smoke from wildfires to the north of us made holding school a health hazard and we were asked to stay home. Before that we had a day that was predicted to bring torrential rain and so the school kept us away. Which is probably best for the educational process, but not so good for the sound of a box of corn starch kneaded between your fingers.
I walked to school back in Colorado. From elementary school all the way to ninth grade. Yes, there were a number of occasions upon which my brothers and I were able to finagle a ride from my father on those days that things were frozen and becoming ever more frozen. And there were certainly days when we huddled around the radio, listening for school closures, hoping to hear Boulder Valley RE-2 among the districts that would not open.
But mostly we pulled on our gloves and hats and puffy jackets and headed out into the wild. I remember carrying my tennis shoes in a Wonder bread bag so that I could change out of my boots once I got to school. This necessitated not just that one change, but potentially several throughout the day if we were sent out into the elements to play. Many was the time that by the end of the day I had grown tired of all that shoe rotation and wore my tennies home, soaking them and freezing my toes. Then they would be propped against the heat register to dry overnight.
But when I did walk in the snow with my boots, the sound was evocative of an expedition to the North Pole as I was joined by my younger brother and friends from the neighborhood. It was a forced march that we made on those days when the snow piled up on the streets and sidewalks. That crunch that accompanied every step reminded us we were one step closer. One step closer to school. One step closer to turning around and making that same tired parade back home.
The box of corn starch is a lot warmer.

No comments: