We have finally begun to feel snug in our nest. The sparrows and pigeons outside our apartment are warm beneath their winter down, “floofed,” as we say, at all times. The dizzying array of iridescent feathers keep the wind from ever reaching their skin, and the follicles themselves protrude like goose bumps to keep every feather standing at attention in the snow. On the surface of every bird is a battle of homeostasis: sleeping, eating, and “floofing” make for an exhausting day, but these birds—many of whom are experiencing their first snow this season—are well equipped. And should they fail, their flock will be at their side with extra warmth on chilly nights.
Unlike the rain, which the sky begrudgingly releases only when it absolutely must to spare the parched earth, the snow is simply released above us to flutter, flail, and ultimately gather at our feet. It threatens the salted streets, riverbanks growing where sidewalks once knew the sun. I believe whole heartedly that when nobody is looking the snow rearranges itself neatly along the edges of the land it cannot conquer. As the street stays black, aided by the tires of passing cars, the snow lingers along its sidelines, ever gradually working its way toward full coverage.
I watched as a truck sent a vortex of snow in a rage—how dare the gust of traffic keep flakes from their final resting place! Here on Fourth Avenue the snow attacks the expressway at a slant, at times so nearly parallel to the earth that it looks as though Bay Ridge is exporting its snowy produce toward the Gowanus canal. From the windows of the birds’ room, our secret garden in the airlock between our buildings is an idyllic white pasture where snow gracefully lets itself down to the remains of patio furniture and abandoned wheel barrows. The chain link fences and wrought iron are appropriately be-speckled by the sky’s white equalizer. The apparent economic stratification from one corner of South Slope to the far edge of Park Slope is blanketed by a cotton of ice that begs for hot chocolate and Netflix.
There is little in life more exciting than the run to the subway. I laugh to myself as I run from the snow, hiding underground in relative warmth, antsy until my train emerges above ground shortly after our transfer to Dekalb Avenue. Here, along the bridge, we meet again as a new battle emerges between frigid river barge brigade and a foreign snowy offensive. I quietly cheer for the snow to win. My morbid hope that this be the snow that slows the city that never sleeps to a grinding halt keeps me glued to the windows of the train. Perhaps today is the day of this freezing week on which we finally see a reprieve from the endless demands of Manhattan that spill over into my Brooklyn paradise. With the day’s 800 meters of visibility the ever-looming skyline of sad towers is already completely obscured by a comforting snow. Nothing beyond the expressway exists, and the foreground of my view is a fire escape delicately topped with confectioner’s sugar.
The second to last day of the year and what a magical day it is to awaken to what still feels a fairy tale. I pray that the birds beyond my window stay warm and loved as the ones inside. I nearly muster a prayer for humanity but do not wish to jinx this magical day. Today humanity must pause and concede to the might of the sky.