Thanksgiving for Snow

Dec 9, 2016

Credit Sid Shroyer

It’s good to see the snow back this week. It quietly reminds me that warmth and community are essential for survival. When I was eight Dad decided on the way home from the Grant County high school basketball tourney that U.S. 35 was drifting shut so he turned the Chevy around and the family spent the night with Aunt Emmy and Uncle Howard back in Marion. They were happy to have us.  A cold bed in a lonely room returned to life and we didn’t have to go to school the next day.

We had some snow come and go down in Grant County, but my first two winters up here, ’78 and ’79, solidified my belief that this northern clime is not really Indiana. It was never my intention to stay or not to stay in Indiana. And that’s how it’s worked out. I left and I didn’t leave. I stayed and I didn’t stay.

It’s comforting to me, a sense that every winter here is the same. Every street in the snow is our-little-house-on-29th-Street street in the snow and every destination in the snow is the-100-Center-to-see-The-Deer-Hunter movie destination in the snow.

There is a shovel in the trunk. My shoes are boots. We’re ready.

Judy and I drove to New York City, Brooklyn, for our usual Thanksgiving this year. We’ve done Amtrak and usually we fly, but after a nightmare with Southwest Airlines at Midway in July and a flight to JFK via Minneapolis from Indianapolis in October, “Let’s drive it” made sense.

Thanksgiving can be cold in New York, which makes all the walking we have to do there miserable, but it was warm for late November this year.

Along with the Boerum Hill Brooklyn Thanksgiving family feast, Thursday, on Friday, I walked the neighborhood with an old friend from Connecticut. 

With Judy and the kids I saw a great movie, another in-the-snow movie, Manchester by the Sea, at the Brooklyn Academy of Music that night. Snow should get a lifetime achievement award at the Oscars, don’t you think?

Saturday, with the kids at a party in Queens, I got to talk about that time I saw Led Zeppelin again. We ate for a final time together in Bed Stuy on the way out of town Sunday afternoon.  New York.

Halfway home, Monday morning, we scraped ice off the car windows for the first time in Clearfield, Pennsylvania, reminding me of Limon, Colorado on the way to my first South Bend Thanksgiving in 1975.

The October trip had been to meet our daughter’s future in-laws, Ari’s folks, who came up from their home in Maryland.  The six of us watched “Oh Hello Broadway,” which was hilarious, at the Lyceum Theatre on 45th. Lily and the mothers then ventured forth into the wedding industrial complex, while Ari and the fathers took the C-train to the New York Historical Society Museum.

On the way back we sat on a bench so I could eat a street vendor pretzel on the Central Park side of the street, at 72nd, our subway station stop. Caddy-corner from us we could see a steady stream of picture snappers startled by the ease with which they could approach the famous Dakota Apartments, and the exact spot on the street where Mark David Chapman shot John Lennon.  The Lorraine Motel in Memphis is a museum. The Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles was demolished.

People live in the Dakota.

“This is it?” they seemed to say. What do we do now?”

You may be old enough to remember that John was murdered was 36 years ago, yesterday. I remember it as 36 years ago today. I was driving down dark and deserted Ironwood Drive, cold but not brutal, on my way to work at 5:00 in the morning when radio's Larry King revealed for me that John Lennon is dead. I could tell about whom he was talking before he said the name.

As it turned out, that day after, December 9, 1980, that was also the day Ari was born.  Ari and Lily have decided to live the rest of their lives together. And, I have a specific memory of the day he was born. I thought it mattered for one reason and it matters more for another. Life is what happens when you are making other plans. Happy birthday, Ari.

It’s good to see the snow again.   

Song: Matthew Perryman Jones – Land of the Living