Thursday, January 27, 2011

Walkin' Through A Winter Wonderland


The fourth snow of the season ended and an hour later the fifth one began.  I feel like I'm back in Vermont!

Last night, Marianne and I went for a walk with our cameras to record what it was like in Roxborough, our neighborhood in Philadelphia.  Pictured above (photo by Marianne) is Ridge Avenue, a half-block from our house.  Ridge was originally an Indian trail.  During the American Revolution, George Washington and his troops walked up it on their retreat from Philadelphia and then after their defeat at the Battle of Germantown during the darkest hours of the war for independence. It was quite literally the road to Valley Forge.

As you can see, there wasn't much traffic.  Some city salt trucks, a bus, and rather a lot of people proving that their four wheel drive SUVs were sensible purchases.  But, oh my goodness, was the snow hard and driving and cold!   We were only out some fifteen or twenty minutes when we had to turn back.  Why?  Well, check out the photo of me smiling through the accumulated ice and snow.

And speaking of magnificent titles . . .

I just signed the Asimov's contracts for my latest story (not counting the one I wrote today), "For I Have Lain Me Down on the Stone of Loneliness and I'll Not Be Back Again."

The Stone of Loneliness lies in the West of Ireland.  It's a fallen Sarsen stone and if you look closely, you can see the cup-marks on it.  There was an ancient belief that lying on it was a cure for heartbreak.  So, during the Starvation, emigrants would sleep on it their last night before leaving for America.

True story:  Twenty-eight years ago, on my first visit to Ireland, I hunted it up and lay down on it.  And I felt all the pain in the world flow into me.

I put that incident into the work in question, as well as my glancing encounter with Gerry Adams and much else as well.  In a strange way, it may be the most truthful story I've ever written.



David Stone said...

I remember several years ago I walked through the middle of DC to work during (or just after) a heavy snowfall. (I worked at a radio station, and lived between 1 and 2 miles away, so I had "no choice" but to go to work.) It was pretty amazing being the only person in sight, walking around in the one of the greatest centers of political power on the planet. It is a pretty amazing memory for me, and one of those things that no one else can really appreciate when I describe it to them.

Erin English said...

You know, having to dress up in a fur rimmed, down stuffed, winter hazmat suit every time I leave the house since the end of November, I find your attire entirely inappropriate for a snow storm.

Although I still find it amusing.

Michael Swanwick said...

When I lived in Vermont, I had a full set of winter gear, right down to the pacs and the terrorist mask. Philadelphia winters, however, only rarely deserve the name. Normally, one can avoid ever having to put on anything more serious than a parka simply by staying indoors one day a year and drinking hot cocoa.

Which is not to say that the sight of somebody who goes out into a winter storm unprepared isn't, as you say with some restraint, amusing.