28 February 2012

a wintry chill

Sliding back the living room blinds revealed a thick and swirling snowstorm and the radio declared a “snow day” for the island. I peered out of the girls’ bedroom window down into the parking lot and saw, wonder of wonders, it had been ploughed, although a fresh cover was accumulating.

I could set aside taking care of the girls for the morning as Michelle was off work. Firstly I called the Royal Mail in London to query an error on their website which was preventing me from ordering stamps. The agent was able to replicate the error and said it was a big problem that would have to be addressed at a higher level. Their newly revised site won’t recognise any two letter State or Province codes for Canada or the USA. I placed an order for some miniature sheets by phone this time.

I phoned the gym at Stratford and listened to a recorded message confirming the gym was open today so I slipped into running gear and trotted down to the car. Minus ten felt like minus twenty in a strong northerly wind. I pulled the snow brush from the car and hurriedly began sweeping four inches off the roof, bonnet and boot (note the sensible English terms).

The snow crunched under my wheels as I nosed the car round the apartment building, guided by the deep frozen tyre ruts as if on rails. Once on the main road I realized the lack of traffic flow on this “snow day” had left the roads particularly dangerous. I braked gently and early everywhere. Fine snow drift was whipping off roofs. After a thirty minute drive that usually takes twenty I pulled into the Stratford Recreation Centre and slithered the small Kia to a halt between two menacing trucks.

Only a handful of brave souls had made the determined trek to the gym so I had my pick of the equipment. I spent twenty minutes on the elliptical cross trainer, settling into a rhythm and watching my heart rate climb to one hundred and forty-five. Today’s sparse attendance meant scant opportunity for people-watching but soon one newcomer arrived. I saw her study some wall charts then do a few stretches before setting off round the track at a jog. Shock, horror – the wrong way! Walkers use the inside lane and runners the outside but in opposite directions. It’s safer to see a faster person approaching from in front than behind.

The elliptical beeped an announcement that my session had ended and after spraying and wiping the surfaces clean I sauntered towards the track. I stopped at the barrier to stretch and waited for our newcomer to pass. She was a tall, leggy blond with a giraffe-like gait. I caught her eye and motioned to speak to her. She slowed and pointing to the direction instructions I gently suggested that today we were running clockwise. Most apologetically she turned gracefully on her toes and headed off the other way. Naturally this encounter was conducted with all the tact and diplomacy befitting an Englishman.

I dialled in a new album by Delta Spirit on my iPod and set off after the giraffe. Within a few laps I had closed in on her. I ran thirty-one and a half laps which is precisely two and a half miles and passed her three times in the process. My foot was beginning to twinge so I peeled off and sat for a few moments, sweating liberally. I remounted the elliptical and completed another twenty minutes before calling it a day.

An hour and a half of thaw with rising temperatures made the return journey less tricky. I sank gratefully into a hot bath and emerged pink and sparkling to find Michelle dishing up fried eggs on toast for lunch - a much needed energy boost.

02 February 2012

the days of our lives

look back, what life will you see?
a fleeing pinpoint of violent light,
shrinking into eternity,
the sum of your efforts amounting to nil.

when bone and lust are laid to dust
under some fated reaper’s gaze,
is your mark in bold relief or just
the faintest murmur of a trace?

glittering exploits will not matter
today’s fat sun is the golden prize.
seize grief and love with equal might
for these are the days of our lives.