scene(s) at minus twenty

A ginger-haired guy with a wild beard, wearing a blue plaid lumberjacket, black toque not covering his ears, grey backpack, sneakers, riding a green bike. Surely to god he must have gloves, but I don’t notice. I just sit there at the red light watching, thinking he must be nuts— why ride in sub zero?  Then later I see a guy in a grey hoodie with something white and thermal looking underneath, also on a bike, and I think: hmm, maybe there’s something in this.

—A mouse runs across the front porch. A rare thing in winter and I wonder why this one has ventured from its nest—a nest I picture from some childhood book as being pink and pillowy, stitched together from nibbled bits of towel left outside in summer and filled with sparrow feathers, dust and mop fluff. Must have run out of cheese. There’s no other reasonto leave such a nest.

—A dog, a kind of long limbed beagle, gallops unleashed down the sidewalk holding a quart container of chocolate milk in its mouth. I can’t tell if it’s full or empty or frozen. It doesn’t seem to matter.

—Outside the library a mother pulls two toddlers in a wagon with one hand while with the other she holds onto a child in a lemon coloured snowsuit. She lifts each in turn into a minivan, straps them into seats, then hoists the wagon through the back door. The wind blows hair all around her face and her cheeks are bright red. She isn’t wearing gloves. You can’t fasten tiny people into buckles and straps with gloves.

—At the nursing home I see the woman I always see who visits her mum the same time I visit mine. She’s often carrying a basket of wet laundry, which she once told me she takes home to hang on the line, to give it that fresh scent, the kind of smell nursing homes tend to run short on. But it’s minus twenty today so as we pass I say: You’re not going to hang that outside are you?

And she says: Of course I am. I’m from Saskatchewan. 


3 thoughts on “scene(s) at minus twenty

  1. A hearty breed!

    She actually explained the principles of frozen laundry and how, if you leave it out long enough, it’ll freeze then thaw on the line and end up fluffy and perfect and dry. Unlike the damp plywood boards (aka towels and sheets) I’ve occasionally manouevred back into the house after an attempt at “wintry fresh”.

    She said success depends entirely on wind. Easy for a Saskatchewanian to say! I’ll give her method a try but honestly I’m expecting more lumber! :)

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