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Friday, November 1, 2013

Change of decade

Dec. 30, 1980

Pauly tells me a new decade doesn’t really start until the first year after the number change. So tomorrow officially ends the 1970s, leaving me to wonder what to expect.
We are officially almost two weeks into winder. But the river here still clings to some aspects of autumn – a handful of leaves fluttering on branches even as snow decorates the cracks of land at each trees’ feet.
Sunlight shimmers over the disturbed surface of the water, creating a landscape of flame, blinding me each time I look in that direction.
The chill draws the warmth of my run from me so that I clutch my cup of coffee to keep my fingers warm as I pay my respects to the newly fallen trees and tribute to other hearty souls who like myself brave this weather, bundled people flowing across the Outwater Lane bridge from the Garfield side to the jobs at the mills on the Passaic side of the river.
The bright sun casts web-like shadows across the river bank; the silhouettes of bare branches that seem to split open the earth and sky, a jig saw puzzle it will take the return of spring to solve.
Most people see winter as a dark season. But today, this is not true. Everything is too bright, too stark, painting in colors that seem unnatural to me.
Even the tan brick of the paper mills – which on other days seem as haunted as a vampire’s castle – seem unbearably cheery today, standing out against the vivid blue sky.
The wildlife, too, defies the season, a few ducks floating in ice-free pools near the shore, while wrens and swallows flit from branch to bridge and back again in their endless routine to keep warm.
I don’t quite ache for spring yet, but I wonder when it will come – each year bringing a different kind of spring at a slightly different time, a melting, dripping spring in some years, a dawning, dramatic spring in others.
I sip coffee, seeking to stay warm, greeting this new decade with more than a little trepidation, wondering if like spring what new features it will bring, a dripping muddy one or something that will explode on me with the unexpected.

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