The sky outside my 48th floor window is white. White and gray, and, if we’re optimistic or, perhaps, a bit drunk, it can be argued that there’s a shade of blue in there as well.
It is February, and we take what we can get.
Frankly, I’ve had enough of winter, a sentiment I espouse, oh, every February. We’ve had our fill, thank you, and eagerly await the first signs of spring.
Until then, however, and with roughly two months to go, we have hunkered down, en masse, as they say, to sullenly drink our beer, assuring each other that a cream sauce or a fistful of heavily buttered potatoes is a reasonable addition to all meals and sluggishly picking lint from our sweaters.
It is in this uplifting frame of mind that I find myself walking the skyways.
The skyways! The people of Minneapolis got together, like our good neighbors to the north, decided that this walking outside stuff was unreasonable, and so set about to never do it again. Toronto linked its buildings with 18 miles of tunnels, Minneapolis to 8 miles of second-floor walk-ways, thus ensuring that we only spend the first 15 and the last 15 minutes of the work day dressing for the out-of doors.
It’s a strange thing, the gradual addition of layers of clothing. By February, even the slenderest Minneapolitan is beginning to look a bit robust. Our waistlines are gone, our legs padded with the leggings we’ve added to our routines. In some cases, we have no necks, buried as they are under turtlenecks, decorative scarves, and gravy-supplemented chins.
To tell the truth, if I’m not wearing at least a dozen items of clothing at all times, I feel positively naked.
So there I am at lunch time the other day, walking at a clip somewhere between brisk and panic, as is required by all of those in the Northern Climes, when I look ahead to see a man looking at me.
I am often approached by people who think they know me. “I dunno why,” my dad likes to say. “I think you look like you might be someone else.”
There is also the possibility, of course, that I have something unbecoming on my face. I reach up, search with tentative fingers.
And then he smiles, the man in front of me – and sucks in his gut.
“Nice day!” he enthuses as he passes me.
And just like that, and as silly as it seems, it is a nice day.
Spring is not here, but it’s not far away.
And I walk, briskly, back to the office.