Milagros

I’ve been wound up kind of tight lately and thought a good long walk would help.  Didn’t check the weather first.  Oops.  Fortunately, the main blizzard hasn’t started yet and the temperature’s holding steady at about 20 degrees.

I went along the side of the lake, looking at all the people and art out on the ice.  Since it’s Monday, only the jobless guys were out fishing–no shacks even, except for a few in trailers who probably live out there.  For some reason, people like to haul bunches of Christmas trees way out on the ice.  And there’s real public art, too–a metal sea serpent who looks like he’s dipping in and out of the lake, and a whole crew of Angry Penis Monsters (or at least that’s what they look like.)

Stopped at a store where a lady and her husband sell stuff they bring up every year when they travel in Mexico, and bought some milagros (miracle charms) to resell at the shop.  Also a brightly-painted tin picture of a skeleton driving a bicycle, which I’m going to hang by the front door right under the picture of the princess letting the frog prince who’s still pretty much just a frog into the castle.  I talked to the lady, who told me about the blizzard, and about how tomorrow she’s about to head back down to Mexico and isn’t going to be in any hurry to come back.

The snow was thickening up as I crossed the bridge into the Arboretum.  That stupid book I keep trying to write takes place in there, but I can’t get ever anyone to believe the Arboretum really exists.  It’s huge, I don’t even know how many square miles of woods, marsh and meadow, embedded right in Madison.  One minute you’re passing a car wash and a Chinese laundry and a hospital, the next minute you might as well be a hundred miles away.

Nobody much out there on a day like this, just a few cross-country skiers.  It’s a walk of about three miles on the main road before you get out the other end, plus I took a detour through the woods just so I could visit my favorite boardwalk.   I know my way pretty well, otherwise I’d have been afraid of getting lost, with everything as white as everything else.  I did get semi-lost–not truly misplaced, just meandering a bit as I tried to figure where to walk so that the snow wouldn’t come up over the tops of my boots.  I was tired by the time I got out of the woods again, and it was still another two miles through the thickening snow before I’d get to the grocery store.  I was planning to take the bus home from there, only I was afraid they might stop running buses because of all the snow, in which case I’d have to walk all the way home with a sack and backpack full of groceries.  Fortunately that didn’t happen, because I was sore-legged, hungry and dehydrated.

I don’t understand snow, how it can look like it’s falling in ten different directions at once.  I don’t understand evolution, how some creature came upon the notion of surviving winter by flapping from tree to tree and smashing its mouth against the bark looking for bugs.  I don’t understand eggs or buds or hibernating chipmunks, how they’re dead but have plans to come back to life according to a certain schedule.  This is such an astonishing world, I don’t understand why people don’t like it.

It was a long walk, but it worked.

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