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Monday, January 26, 2015

Snow, Pleasure, and Paradox

Just got back from swimming 20 laps at the New York Sports Club, with the snow falling dangerously and beautifully outside the big windows.  In many ways, this strikes me as one of the heights of civilization.

My take on the snow has changed over the years.  When I was kid, it was nothing but a pleasure to get off from school, have snowball fights on the streets off Allerton Avenue in the Bronx, and even shoveling was an opportunity to earn a couple of bucks, usually less, but hey.

Now, as a professor, I still don't mind classes being cancelled, but that can sometimes come with the price of having to make them up near the end of the term, usually a sunny day in May.   As for shoveling, it's no longer a source but a drain on money, especially in a big storm in which we pay someone to do the shoveling.

And the snow itself?  It still has a magic, an expression of reality, of soft interaction with sky, that's inimitable.  A snowflake is itself a paradox to touch, because the touching wipes it out, obliterates the texture, and thus is a great example of a self-eradicating proposition.   But the snowstorm is no paradox, and about as straightforward as it gets.

Driving in the snow is certainly no pleasure, but there's an exhilaration in that too, as you best the elements in your trip back home, or wherever.   Front wheel cars have made driving in the snow a lot less dangerous, and my wife's four-wheel drive is a safe bet in everything but a blizzard.

Power outages and falling trees are real dangers, and that's where I pretty much draw the line about my enjoyment of a big snow.   If we get through this one without any loss of power, I'll count this first big snow of 2015 a blizzard worth experiencing.

Ft. Tryon Park, NYC,  in yesterday's snow, photo by Emon Hassan
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