Thursday, January 30, 2014

walking to the Y on a cold winter night

Our car is dying, which is fine. We chose our neighborhood partly because we wanted to be able to go carless sometime soon. But I confess I had hoped it would die with the winter, not now.

Last weekend, Emma and I took the bus and the lightrail to see the Rollergirls in St. Paul, and that was nice, cheaper than driving and almost as fast. I've been bicycling during the winter, and that's generally fine when there's neither a lot of snow on the ground or a lot of ice.

Today, we got serious snow, so I decided to walk the mile to the Y for the evening zumba class. Bundling up for Minnesota winters is a skill all Minnesotans learn quickly, so I was comfortable. A lot of sidewalks had not been shoveled yet, so the walking varied, sometimes from house to house, but the snow wasn't terribly deep anywhere.

None of which is why I'm writing this.

A few blocks from home, I came on a car that couldn't get traction. Two men were standing by it, so I asked if they wanted a hand pushing, and the car moved along just fine. It was my good deed for the day. I think one of the reasons Minnesotans tend to be nice, regardless of their politics, is we're reminded every winter that we depend on the kindness of strangers.

Then, a block or two later, I noticed someone coming up behind me. I walk briskly, so this always triggers my street smarts. I don't know if he was walking even faster or if he'd come out of a building as I passed, but I thought the best thing to do was to step aside and see if he passed.

Instead, we got into a conversation for the next couple of blocks. He was a young guy from Somalia whose family was all in the US now, in San Diego and Denver and here. He had a bit of an accent still, but he'd been in the states for a while, originally in Denver, then here. I wish I had a better memory for dialogue, because he talked briefly about the trees in Colorado in the winter, and I admired it then, and thought later he had whatever poets should have, the ability to see beauty and describe it simply.

We parted, he to the train, me to the Y. Dancing was nice. The walk back was a little easier because more people had come home from work and shoveled their walks. But there was no one to talk to until I got home, and, solitary soul that I am, I had not thought I would miss a stranger's company.