Wednesday, December 03, 2008

winter spirit

I borrowed Ed’s little Geo to run a few errands. That is one light little car! And I never even worried about it, that’s how much I take for granted winter driving. And it was snowing. Significantly.

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If I had problems on the road, they paled compared to problems that motorcyclists faced. I asked Ed if it was typical to ride in snow with your feet down. Yes, he tells me, if you’re the cautious type. [Is there an implication here that real men do not fret the cautious stuff?]

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Ah, winter.

If you're into the mood of it, this surely was the day to buy a Christmas tree.

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I’ve never favored big cars. I think big houses are unnecessary. Big TVs are, in my eyes, unattractive. But big trees? That’s not a preference, that’s a need. Wide and to the ceiling. I’m not sure why I imagine this kind of a tree. It’s the one place where I abandon minimalism and favor going all out. The tree, the magnificent, irrepressible, towering, exploding tree.

Ed’s along for the Geo ride now, keeping me company. Big Ed, little Geo, big tree. How does it all fit together?

At the nursery, the men are heaving a tree, attempting to control it and, more importantly, keep it in an upright position. This one, take this one, they prod me. We can’t figure out how to stand it up here. Take this one.

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I look at the tree. It looks twice their size. I’m not sure it will fit… It’ll fit – they tell me. Because they know the dimensions of my living room? No, because they want to get rid of it. Okay. You’ll fit it into the Geo? They laugh. Geo? It’ll crush it. Tomorrow then, we’ll pick it up tomorrow. With a Ford pick up.

Across the street, at Classen’s German bakery, I stock up for the holidays. Some people bake a lot of cookies. That’s what you do around the holidays, right? Angels, Santas, reindeer. I read the recipes and I always think – that’s a lot of trouble for a cookie. And so I go to Classen’s and I buy their seasonal stars and moons and boys with m&m buttons running up their fronts (chocolate covered gingerbread) and over the years, I have convinced my daughters that this is the very best anyone could put forth on a Christmas plate at tree trimming time.

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And if this day wasn’t wintry enough, what with the Geo in the snow and the tree left alone, in the nursery, waiting for a ride home, I had two more holiday-ish moments: first, watching, on the ride home, that splendid winter sunset that makes a bleak landscape look like a thing of great beauty…

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…and secondly, a young Polish couple, interested in a condo here, in my building, came over to chat about it. [They found me through Ocean.] Being as Polish as apple pie, or, in the alternative, extremely kind and generous, they brought with them a Polish apple cake and a Hungarian Tokaji. And a winter bouquet.

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We spoke Polish into the evening and I felt good about this, especially since this year, I am not going to Poland in the winter. I am done with bleak short days in sleety cold Warsaw. Poland should be a spring fling. If I go anywhere at all in December or January, it will be to a place with a kinder, gentler climate.

Oh, but that’s a story for Saturday. I’m not leaving until then.