far too much writing, far too many photos

A few days back, friends stateside let me know they’d gotten a whole lot of snow dumped on them, the first major accumulation of the season. Two days later — yesterday morning — cold weather arrived here, the very first truly blast of what passes for frigid air here. I wasn’t prepared, stepped out the building’s front door in my usual a.m. state of near-sleepwalking, found myself suddenly freezing, my body leaping into a state of immediate shock. Looked around, saw people dressed in winter gear, looked at my inadequate fleece zip-up autumn jacket thingie. Pulled the collar up, hunched shoulders, made tracks for a local bakery/café. Where, it turned out, the woman behind the counter was complaining loudly about the near-arctic conditions, seeming to be having some difficulty in unwrapping her hands from the warm cups of coffee she was supposed to hand over to a stream of slightly stunned looking customers.

An accordion player hangs out at a corner between here and that bakery/café. Hails from somewhere in Central or South America. Keeps business hours, essentially, puts in a full day during the week, half a day on Saturdays. Works hard, and is good. Lately, he´s introduced certain Christmas tunes to his playlist, leaning heavily on a goofy rendition Jingle Bells (tossing in loud, strange ‘HO HO HOOOOO!’s at unexpected moments). This has meant that every time I´ve gone by, I´ve come away with that melody heaving around on an endless loop in my teeny brain, and for some reason it has been seriously removal-resistant. On the other hand, a week ago I came across a musician in the Metro busy cranking out a terrifying rendition of ‘Love Is In The Air’ (which may explain the howling of dogs I heard aboveground not far from that Metro station). Compared with that, ‘Jingle Bells’ is positively benign.

(The accordionist was out there this morning — Sunday, after a full workweek — in seriously raw conditions, sporting a Santa hat and trying not to look like he was experiencing progressive frostbite. I hope he’s making a decent pile of cash out of all the time he’s putting in.)

Yesterday a.m.’s change in weather sent me home to pull thermal underthings from drawers, dragging them on before the next foray into the world outside. First time this season, at least here. Had to bring some along some — fortunately left stashed away in a storage compartment here when I left my previous flat in April 2008 — for the visit to the U.K. a couple of weeks back, since the cold and damp there would have overpowered the autumn-weight duds I brought when I fled Vermont in early October. Having thermals along was a huge blessing, given cold winds, cold rain, and the season’s first encounter with snow-covered landscapes.

Staffordshire, looking north into Derbyshire:

And why, you may ask, did I only take autumn-weight duds when fleeing Vermont? (1) I wasn’t sure exactly what I was doing, where I would end up, how long I’d gone. And (2) I decided to err on the side of traveling light, since I’ve gotten weary of dragging overstuffed baggage around. Given that I wound up re-establishing myself in Madrid instead of wandering off somewhere more northerly, somewhere darker, colder, damper, that hasn’t been a decision I’ve regretted. Until now. As it turns out, something’s come up and I have to make a fast trip back stateside. Will hop a plane out tomorrow, then will hop a flight back here at the end of the week. And when I return I’ll come armed with more winter-appropriate clothing.

The upside of the sudden, though brief, return: will get to see some friends, will get to take care of some things that need to be taken care of. This is good. Will also get to slog through Vermont snow, slop and freezing cold temperatures. Am not quite as psyched about that, but Christmas lights and holiday hooha will compensate some.


Names of genuine businesses and shops seen in the U.K. during the recent trip north:

Curl Up & Dye
Bargain Booze
Everything’s Rosy
Balls Brothers
All Wrapped Up
Booze Butler
Jones & Snufflebottom Ltd.


Madrid — waiting for a Sunday afternoon bus:

España, te amo.

One Response to “plunging mercury”

  1. Reviewer11

    Make sure you take plenty of warm clothing. Stay warm and have a fun and safe trip. :)

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