Winter Hazards III

After the third blizzard there were 2 dead days while the city scrambled.  School was closed and public transit suspended.  Unusual winter hazards began cropping up all over.  Here, the roof of a warehouse collapsed.  There, an old man is run over by a plow truck.  Snow has short-circuited the subway tracks.  A car is crushed by a falling icicle.

There was talk of melting the snow, talk of dumping trucks full of it into the ocean.  My mom called and messaged daily with genuine concern in her voice.  Meanwhile, in our snow cave, we sat, we drank wine, we tele-conferenced, we cooked elaborate meals and played games of DOTA.

Winter Hazards II

My mom asked me on the phone if I was feeling a bit pent up. I said I was feeling definitely a little stuck. Then she said it was almost 60 degrees the other day in Maryland and I asked her to please stop telling me about the wonderful weather she is having.

Larisa sent me today a poem about a solid, quiet love.  It makes me feel simultaneously empowered, and also weak and ashamed.


Take Love for Granted
by Jack Ridl

Assume it’s in the kitchen,
under the couch, high
in the pine tree out back,
behind the paint cans
in the garage. Don’t try
proving your love
is bigger than the Grand
Canyon, the Milky Way,
the urban sprawl of L.A.
Take it for granted. Take it
out with the garbage. Bring
it in with the takeout. Take
it for a walk with the dog.
Wake it every day, say,
“Good morning.” Then
make the coffee. Warm
the cups. Don’t expect much
of the day. Be glad when
you make it back to bed.
Be glad he threw out that
box of old hats. Be glad
she leaves her shoes
in the hall. Snow will
come. Spring will show up.
Summer will be humid.
The leaves will fall
in the fall. That’s more
than you need. We can
love anybody, even
everybody. But you
can love the silence,
sighing and saying to
yourself, “That’ s her.”
“That’s him.” Then to
each other, “I know!
Let’s go out for breakfast!”

Winter Hazards I

Today on my way from the busstop to work I walked by the physics building.  There was yellow caution tape around both front entrances and a taped note saying “STOP! ICICLES”.  Looking up I saw a curtain of ice ringing the roof ledge of the building.  Its tassles as long as I am tall.  A steady stream of people came in and out of the side entrance of the building.

Water and Wind

For 10 euros at a paint mill outside Amsterdam we bought a wood windmill construction kit as a souvenir to build back home. Tonight we cracked open the box, unpacked the pieces on our rug, found ourselves faced with a more complex construction project than we imagined and no instructions for assembly.

la foto

We found two pieces of advice on the back of the box. One: that we should mark each wood piece with numbers at the positions shown on the included chart. Two: that we should use the picture of the windmill on the front of the package as a guide. We turned over the box and stared at the photograph of a real windmill with grazing sheep in the foreground.

There was such complexity and attention to detail to make us wonder if this was a to-scale model of an actual windmill. There, too, were mistakes in the numbered chart, the only piece of instructional material we were provided. Somehow those two things together made the experience feel very Dutch to me.

la foto 1

Our second night in Amsterdam, we were talking to some young Dutch guys at a local bar. They had just graduated college. I asked them what their plan was, when Global Warming came, and the sea level rose. The tall one, the one in the middle, replied, “Easy, build more dams.” The Dutch, I learned, were the best at building dams.

amsterdam 085

Among all the little details–the joints, windows, structural beams inside the roof dome, turning vanes, a counterweight–my favorite has to be that the blades were cut and mounted at such an angle as to make it very believable that, were it windy in my apartment, this wooden model windmill might be able to do some work.

Somehow, building this little windmill brought it all back to me. The animal smells. The bracing wind. The country roads that rose out of the water. The rush of standing next to the giant turning blades of the paint mill, craning my neck to look up.

amsterdam 112


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.