Chicken (or, how I temporarily became a little old lady)
A few years before she died, I took my Aunt Margaret to visit an elderly cousin who was temporarily in a nursing home recovering from a fall. It was winter. The parking lot was icy. Margaret took my arm.
I was shocked.
Although Margaret was then in her early eighties, I always thought of her as being as sure footed as a mountain goat.
But, of course, she was getting old and a bit frail and she, no doubt, did not want to end up like Mary Hanratty in a nursing home with a broken hip.
Well, neither do I. Nor do I want to refracture my arm or do anything else to set back the steady but frustrating and overlong course of recovery I'm on.
Against my husband's advice, I went out during last week's ice storm for my PT appointment. Jim had salted our stairs and side walks, but I can't say the same for everyone else along my route from home to Mass General Hospital - which is generally about a 5-10 minute walk.
I crept along, ultra-cautious at the corners where the slush and ice had built up, not taking any chances at the walk-lights. (No jay walking for me!)
After the appointment, I crept back home and pretty much stayed put the rest of the day.
The weather stayed cold, and the streets and sidewalks didn't fully recover to their normal late fall danger combo of slick-brick-cum-wet-leaves. Icy patches were everywhere.
Later in the week, I took at cab to a client's, and asked him to pull up in a better spot to let me out. Spot number one was on an ice patch.
That night, I slowly made my way through the dimly lit streets of Beacon Hill to my friend Susan's. I generally like those dimly lit streets, the old-fashioned gas lamps casting their old-fashioned, exceedingly limited glow. Half way to Susan's, I found myself walking in the generally clear streets, rather than on the iced up brick sidewalks, wishing that I'd had the presence of mind to carry a flashlight.
I wondered whether I should see if LL Bean sells city crampons.
On Friday, we had a mini-ice storm.
I was at The Writers' Room of Boston when the storm struck. I had to go out and pick up some food etc. for The Room's holiday party. The Sultan's, where I went for grape leaves and hummus, is just across the street, and I made it there with nary a slip up. But I also needed to get a bag of ice.
Normally, it would take me less than a minute to cover the ground between 111 State Street and the Store 24.
Why hadn't I asked one of the "younger folk" to go get the g.d. ice. I was just as happy to drink the soda warm, and I sure as hell wasn't going to have a glass of wine and chance the streets.
Creep, creep, creep....
After the party, my friend and neighbor Marilyn and I made our way home together. In front of the State House - a complete ice floe - I grabbed on to Marilyn's arm. Not only is Marilyn a fine writer, but she's also a nurse. And nearly my age. We laughed as we crept along on the ice. She told me that some show-off young whipper-snapper had passed her earlier in the evening, only to fall flat on his face. Hah!
Creep, creep, creep....
Saturday was supposed to be balmy.
My niece Caroline and I took the train to Salem to hunt in the Pickering Wharf antique shops a Yankee Swap gift for her to bring on Christmas Eve. (We found an excellent Yankee Swap item - one of several very good options. This is the first year that my nieces Molly (11) and Caroline (10) will be participating in the Yankee Swap*. We keep telling them that they can't get pissed off and snitty if they end up with something they don't want, although, in truth, the way we do our Yankee Swap almost everyone ends up with something they don't want. There may be an occasional offering that's useful or tasteful, but most of what gets put out there is in deliciously execrable taste - including the choice item Caroline found.)
When we got to Salem, I realized that the sidewalks there were still icy.
Creep, creep, creep.
After we found our treasure, we headed off to meet my sister Trish and her daughter Molly for lunch.
Creep, creep, creep.
I hooked on to Caroline's arm.
Caroline will still let me grab onto her hand when we cross a street, but in the last year or so, we no longer automatically hold hands when we're walking together. (Sigh!) She is, after all, 10 now.
The same is true with Molly. She is, after all, 11 now. (Sigh!)
And now, on the icy Salem sidewalks, how comforting it was to have my niece Caroline to hang on to, although I don't know how well someone who weighs - what? - eighty-five pounds was going to hold me up if I started to take a fall. But it felt good.
More bad weather this week.
More iced up sidewalks. (Why can't we just have a foot of snow and be done with it?)
Even where and when the sidewalks aren't iced up - which, earth to property owners/managers: if you don't shovel the sidewalk, all that nice fluffy snow gets packed down and turns to ice - half of the corners are so treacherous I find myself going into a crouch to navigate them.
I'm sure that, in a few months, I will be back to my sure footed, fast on my feet, nimble, jay-walking, mountain goatish ways.
I hope so, anyway.
But I have seen the future, where I am a little old lady, creeping along on the icy brick sidewalks of Beacon Hill, holding on to my niece's arm for dear life, or, perhaps, like the peasant in Millet's The Sower, casting IceMelt (instead of grain) in front of me as I go. (In real life, I'll probably be crouched down, looking more like one of The Gleaners.)
*You don't know what a Yankee Swap is? Look here to find out. A very fun idea for an office party, by the way, which is where I first participated in one.