The Immigrant’s Conquest in the Snowy City
From the window you can see sombre cloud ranged in the stuffing of the sky. The cloud gives an impression that it is bouncing in its place to get ready to present moist bits of itself to the very quiet but watching earth below. The snow does come very soon. It continues all day and into the night. When you walk out to get the morning papers from the station métro there is already a pleasantly crunching covering on the ground, and you step gingerly on the sidewalk and into a shortcut alley. The snowflakes are whirling in the air at cross-purposes but there are larger, single flakes that fall more steadily. They settle into the cracks of the road to demarcate in plain vividness a honeycomb of arteries that surely lead somewhere. Almost lighting the steeple of the church on one of the principal streets, the sun is a watchful glow behind a shroud that is not of its making.
Your collar is splattered and wetness spreads on the surface of your coat. You want to hurry to get back into your room. You are surprised to see that hardly anyone else is in a mood to hurry. In fact, people are slowing their steps and looking at the incrusting fall with smiles on their faces. When you come back quickly with the papers and turn into the sidewalk of your street you cross someone who is walking with supreme confidence in the opposite direction; the furry hood of the parka is drawn up and inside it there is a glowing smile that, while being cast down, is both self-regarding and other-regarding. You say to yourself this is a warm city.
There is an interval in the day when the flakes become fewer and they make dots in the air that may soon vanish. The outermost creamy building with galleries outside the window is enshrouded in dim mistiness. The branches of the pine are being caked over with enveloping, protecting arms. A docked doggie comes out of the gate opposite and rushes to jump in the snow with unbound delight before he is fetched inside by his master. Soon the flakes tumble down more determinedly and with no surcease. Two schoolboys walk jauntily past the window with hoods raised. They are small in size and no more than ten years in age; the one closest takes a joint from the other and begins to lift it to his lips. The joint is heavy and the paper is creased and twisting. They think that no one is seeing them close. The snow invites a contribution to dampness and has a suggestion of later gooeyness. A man comes up to the garage and pisses for long at the side of the door. He has a relieved grin on his face when he turns.
You go out in the evening in the bus that travels along an east-west street from the station métro. There are very few people today even during the rush hour. The snow is falling relentlessly but not heavily. In the headlights of the cars and before the windscreen of the bus it appears like rain you have seen for many years. You need to remind yourself that this is snow. Some of the mansions on the street have the long path of their steps lit softly by Christmas lights. Illuminated posies hang in the company of silent balconies, bay windows and conical towers. Some of the firs close to the sidewalk are illuminated. Snow is piling up widely, swelling and making cornices, burying all the black, desiccated vegetation on the ground save for the most outward of long, cernuous leaves.
The bus moves slowly. Slurry is building on the road, cyclists are hurrying into the path of the bus, and some people are furiously brushing off the sleeping coat on their cars parked alongside the kerb. Under the impact of wheels the snow on the road dances up convulsively and fragments before sinking back in another progress towards the sludge that will make more than one habitant grimace much later. The lantern lights of the Ritz Carlton shine inviting bright through the drizzle, falling upon a deserted sidewalk; the entire building is lighted but all the inhabitants have left for a journey. The snow cradles, nestles and curdles against the walls of the houses and only one or two blanketed figures step out of their homes to make a valiant countering effort with their shovels. In the overwhelming physical presence of this white blanket upon which the little, bright lights of the coming festival of joy are playing, as well as in the dark but faithful walls of, again, physically warm rooms with closed doors, there is a whole new world that you resolve to keep always wondrously new as you find it. At night you sleep with the window curtain parted to avoid being tricked in the morning into thinking that the night is prolonged. The illumination of the post lamp of the alley is so backstaged by its own lusty reflections from the breathing snow mounds that it seems the window is all shining on its own.