I am inside, but outside the sun is abundant and clean and is showing all of Brooklyn without prejudice. If there were leaves on the big tree that grows beside the window, I’d almost believe that it was the sort of balmy summer day that might lend itself to bike rides along the ocean, picnics in the sand, drinks on the roof while dinner is cooking, potions mixed into our strange collection of mugs and found glasses.
Psych. IT IS EXTREMELY COLD OUTSIDE.
We have been babied by climate change of late– my chops as a year-round cycling commuter felt false until yesterday. Last year the whole winter was just soggy warm wind, and I never developed my biking outfits much past fleece-lined tights and that sweater I found on the ground in Huntingdon in 2007. It’s been alarmingly cold all week, but yesterday it got Real.
At least twice a week I ride to Job #1– my station as an artist’s assistant, which is about a six-mile trek from our apartment in Crown Heights, through Bed-Stuy’s left side, along the Navy Yard’s backbone, across the pale blue Manhattan Bridge, down through the bottom of Chinatown, up the bustling Bowery, and cutting through the throngs of people crowding SoHo until I arrive safely to my office on the eleventh floor of a building in Greenwich Village. Depending on traffic lights, wind speed and my own feelings of malaise, it is a ride that takes approximately forty minutes, door to door. Yesterday, 8:45 am, when the wind chill was at -5 F, it was only about three minutes before I was like, “hmm”.
By the end the stretch running along Flushing Avenue before the bridge, I was already cycling between holding the handlebars with my left hand, rubbing my right leg with my right leg, switch, repeat. Though no part of my body was visible, I could still feel all the places where my hodge-podged winter commuting outfit was not sufficient– the cold sinks along my zippers, the gaps in my mittens. There was no choice but to keep going and spend the first five minutes at work jumping up and down, flapping my arms, pouring tea and shivering under my scarf.
The good news is that I survived, that I rode to work and then to school and then from school to home, and I will do it all again. We’re in a deep freeze for as long as the weather will tell me, and though I could choose more professional fabrics to populate my wardrobe, I will indeed live.
Jake is sick and sleeping, I am putting off the work to be done, and Olive is curled at my feet on our Mexican blanket of many colors. Outside it is sunny and impossibly cold. Inside we are in between things, and hoping for this to go on a little longer.
In memory of warmer times, I will feature Auntie Jo’s fantastic pictures of the very few cats she saw during her July travels through China.