As I left work, I stepped across the slag on a melting wet alley more confidently than I had that morning. Earlier, leaving home, a cold, slick, yet almost steamy world lay before me with a shiny, sick grin. Now, with the few degrees warmth the afternoon sun offered, water trickled from every edge.
Thicker snow still lay on the parking lot, glossed over with a topping of ice. I slowed to cautiously mincing steps as if I had crept onto a tight rope. It took forever to get to my car and I groped toward the bumpers of the other parked cars as I passed. If they could have helped me in a fall, I would have had to already be down to reach them.
My car jounced (that’s jolted and bounced) across the snow-thickened, ice-glazed parking lot. Moving the steering wheel seemed like pulling the rope on my old Flexible
Flyer sled, but I managed to slow at the curb without swerving, looked both ways, and pulled onto the street without stopping.
The well-traveled street felt clear and safe. Almost lulled back to the routine of my going-home mode, I snapped to a new attention. A must-be-full moon sat just above the northeast horizon. The shaded markings that I like to see as facial contours formed an uncertain smile.
The daylight at 4:45p.m. seemed bright, a surprise, like when you really take a look at one of your children and wake up to the evidence that they grew taller. It was that turning point February day that I noticed was longer. I drove home under the sunny, blue sky and thought about spring.
I rounded an “S” curve with extra zest, not letting off the accelerator. To my surprise, the marquis trailer that posts the latest message from Mason’s Steak House said “ONLY 45 DAYS TILL SPRING.” Someone at Mason’s must have felt the same revelation I had. Stepping out of the car at home, I sniffed the cold air longer than usual for some trace of a new, spring season.
Over the phone that night, after telling me how many bird feeders he filled that day, Dad mentioned he had heard some bird songs that had been missing for a few months. Wishful thinking or not, I bought it as truth. It was the perfect topper for the day.
Although the trickling warmth of a thaw is temporary in February, I’m looking forward to a few more slushy, sunny days.
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