Tuesday, February 18, 2014

I'll Take Manhattan (But Only if There’s No Other Choice)

Carolyn J. Rose

 Some people love the hustle and bustle of cities. They love the crowds, the action, the sounds, the smells. They relish the sense of opportunity, of possibility, or even danger.

I’m not one of those people.

Perhaps it’s because I grew up in the country where the woods began at the edge of the lawn and the wild lands of the Catskill Mountains were a short hike beyond that.

Perhaps it’s because I’m just two inches past five feet tall. In a crowd, I see shoulder blades and shirt collars. I feel trapped. I get short of breath and dizzy. I want to scream and run, but there’s no place to go.

Perhaps it’s because I’m—in the words of my husband and others—a control freak. In a crowded city, almost everything seems out of my control.

There are great restaurants and theaters and museums in large cities. But no meal is so terrific, no performance or exhibit so amazing, that it can alter my visceral reaction.

So give me tall trees instead of tall buildings. Give me millions of grains of sand on a beach instead of millions of people in an urban area. Give me a view of mountains or a lake or a river instead of a view of my neighbor’s living room.

You take Manhattan. I’ll take a walk.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Snow Day!!!

February 7, 2014
Carolyn J. Rose

Schools closed two hours early yesterday here in Vancouver, Washington. Students and teachers were urged to get home quickly and safely. I didn’t need any prodding and was grateful that my commute was a mere three miles, very little of it uphill. There were few cars on the road and no one honked at me to move faster than what I considered to be a safe speed.
The snow piled up quickly and the bulletin soon went out—no school on Friday. Even though a school cancellation means no pay for a substitute teacher, I felt a jolt of joy, that sense of having received a gift, getting a “free” day when I hadn’t expected one.

In the Catskill Mountains where I grew up, the five inches that fell here might not have been enough to call off school. The snow days I recall were due to more accumulation of heavy snow, or freezing rain, or the dire threat of both. There were many snowy mornings when we hovered close to the battered radio in the kitchen, waiting for the announcer to repeat the closings, hoping to hear Onteora included on the list, certain there had to be a mistake if it wasn’t.

My mother, a school nurse, would cheer along with us when a snow day was called. For her, though, it was hardly a “free” day, not with three kids wanting lunch, tracking in snow, leaving wet clothing in heaps, and abandoning dirty dishes everywhere. And my father, who ran a small construction company, would go to work as usual—after plowing his way to the county road and clearing the lanes to relatives’ houses.

There won’t be anyone plowing our street—city crews manage the main roads, but ours is hardly that. So I may have a “free” day, but my choices of how to spend it will be limited by how much traction my tires can get.