The fog rises silently from the platforms of ice suspended on the surface of the Saint Lawrence river. Cars stream across the Bonaventure Expressway. You can tell who is late by how much snow they removed from their car from last nights snowstorm.
The sidewalks crunch beneath your feet. There is no pavement here, only slush. If you’re lucky, there is some salt to eat away at the layer of ice beneath the freshly fallen snow. The best advice for any pedestrian walking across the ice today is: don’t keep your hands in your pockets.
Eye contact is all we have this morning. It’s all anyone can muster. There is no stopping to exchange greetings in cold like this. No handshakes, no high fives. Even a hug feels awkward with all of these layers on. Human touch is gone in winter. In its place all we have are our eyes. A quick glance that lasts a half second as we continue past, hurrying to our destination so that we can begin to thaw.
These layers hide our humanity. No smiles, no pleasantries. We all go from point A to point B, cursing at a stoplight that makes us wait on a corner as the cold in the air whips into our faces and exposes the hidden gaps in our scarves and jackets.
The cold air freezes the nostrils and makes the lungs burn. Face masks and scarves block the cold but reveal only their eyes. If there were no cars coming we would ignore this red light and jaywalk to beat the cold. But we have to wait this morning. I glance at the other frozen pedestrians and shrug. It’s all we can do to communicate on mornings like this.
I look up. The sky is mute. There is no texture to it, no color. There used to be color here. A small ray of sunshine tries to peek through the clouds but only manages to illuminate the building above me for a moment before it yields at last to a darker patch of sky.
The wind picks up. A single snowflake falls onto my shoulder.
I know what comes next.