Winter Mourning (pun intentional)

From <; which has a “poor reputation,” so you should probably avoid the source.

I drove to Dubuque to visit Janet for lunch and do a little shopping beforehand (groceries, and with our nearby/local Aldi closing at home, I will in 2011 shop for foodstuffs afar more than we would like). The drive northward, starting about 9:30 in the morning, was magical.

We have endured fog in the night all week as temperatures, dewpoints and humidity generally increase ahead of a couple of rainstorms bearing down on us today and tomorrow — a sarcastically great end of the year, particularly with a huge risk of freezing rain the night of New Yearʼs Eve. The air so far, however, has remained in the teens overnight, so in the morning as the fog lifts, each of the tiny branches in all the trees, bushes, sheaves of wild grass poking through the foot of snow cover, sticks of weed — everything is coated in a glistening sheath of fragile snowlike ice (which the growing minor heat of the day will cause the trees in particular to shed all across the area around them, at home meaning our driveway, in a light but continuing localized shower of of snow crystals).

I had enjoyed similar views of gloriously frosted trees when we drove sister Diane up to Madison on Monday (and enjoyed some excellent Indian/Pakistani cuisine for lunch — at a buffet, in fact), but that day had been mostly overcast. Yesterday, until about noon, we had blue skies, of that chilly cobalt-azure fretted with hoary wisps of cloud that only winter skies display. The views of white-glazed trees against the sapphire welkin were beautiful. And I am afraid that I drove with only a third of my mind on the driving, mostly struck with wonder at the stark, chalked world around my almost floating vehicle.

I can feel why some cultures designate white as the color of mourning, as the experience did have a quietly mortal and sterile quality about it. Somehow crystalline winter mornings like that make me fall into reveries about portending medieval battles (and also foggy ones, in particular, on my way to work in wintertime). If I were an excessively Romantic escapist like Robert E. Howard, I might fantasize about previous lives burbling up in my consciousness, but I tend to imagine the setting as preceding some future conflict once this civilization has collapsed — a grim situation, but with the threatening thrill of that conflict ahead, also wickedly exhilarating. But mostly I didnʼt think, just looked and savored (and invented the contrast with Howard).

Unfortunately, I didnʼt stop to take some pictures (I should have). I just kept driving and never broke the mood.

This is my own scan, but I really should have taken pictures of the morning beauties from my drive.

The generous mix of Santana, Allman Brothers, Dylan, CSN&Y and Sly & The Family Stone (donʼt ask — recently added, all) just compounded the fine feeling of the fine morning. Even, once I arrived more or less, the drive around the back route to hit the western edge of Dubuque didnʼt go too badly (although the road was rough zooming downhill through Rockdale to the first turn onto Old Mill Road), and even the idiots (Dubuque drivers are all cerebrally challenged, according to The Lovely One) on Highway 20 and the NW Arterial werenʼt too bad (nor was that traffic particularly heavy).

I visited the western Hy-Vee for Tofu Scrambler (a nice mix of what we believe is curry and other spices that you add to crumbled tofu and then essentially fry, just with almost no fat in the pan; Janet thinks itʼs like spicy scrambled eggs and says we could have it for breakfast, although we have only ever consumed the creation for supper, which we will do again tonight).* I also stopped by the Starbucks counter for a latte, where they convinced me to go for a quad venti (although I order decaf with skim, I prefer my coffee to taste like coffee), and it did work (the regular venti latte tastes insipid, even less than milky — but with the exception of a few local entrepreneurs, all downtown from that Hy-Vee there in Dubuque, Starbucks is all we have better than diner java).

Then it was across the highway to Samʼs Club, first for gas (their prices are always about seven to ten cents cheaper than the rest, even when Maquoketa is running significantly cheaper than Dubuque — dang mega-chain stores), and then for some victuals and such inside (I may even have found my new pair of running shoes for less than $18; Iʼm going to try them out at the Y today). Mostly I just wandered around to kill time amusingly before heading downtown to pick up The Lovely One. I even did the blood pressure check (my doctor tells me to avoid those devices, but I figure if I use them all the time on my own, I get a pretty standard set of scores — and it killed some time amusingly).

I arrived outside her place of employment about eighteen minutes early, so I hauled out the big red notebook and wrote some more on story/part two of Søren and Judahʼs first adventures together, getting down about five hundred words of pillow talk between Søren and a certain red-haired lovely before it was time to stow stuff away and clear that passenger seat for my favorite passenger.

Lunch at Star was wonderful (the ham and potato soup was especially nice, probably due to the delicious presence of butter — durn you, Julia Child). Then I dropped her off at work again and headed back home (with a stop at Fareway for tofu). The homeward excursion was lots less lovely — the trees had lost their silvery, shivering sheaths of whiteness, and the dayʼd turned gray with the arising of the fog. Itʼs after 5:00 as I type now, and itʼs really gloomy outdoors (not just due to dusk — that moistureʼs filled the air thickly). I hope Janet makes it home soon, before the possibly freezing drizzle may begin.

Ha. With only one day remaining in my year of posts (yes, 2010 is nearly dead), I wasted today on this. Hoped your enjoyed reading! I actually spent time Wednesday and yesterday afternoon working on that poor-homeschooled-child-searching-out-evolution-info that I pondered (and pandered) upon yesterday, close to a thousand words (plus dictating well into chapter 5 of the first Sepharad adventure).

* If you happen to try searching that name (tofu scrambler), you can find that there are many recipes available to do it yourself (weʼre just lazy).

©2010 John Randolph Burrow, Magickal Monkey Enterprises, Ltd, S.A

3 thoughts on “Winter Mourning (pun intentional)

  1. Nice to get a “slice” of your life, John. I didn’t realize you were that close to Dubuque, which I remember as a nice place, though I wouldn’t want to drive there on icy roads. I’m enjoying a couple weeks off for the holidays, but its about over. Just chatted with Steve Woodin, if you remember him from IWC. He’s retired now, too. Strange to hear from people who you last saw when they were just starting their careers! Always enjoy your writing, and appreciate your progressive politics!

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