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WINTER WALKABOUT
It's snowing in Hunneberga, but not in Hammarlunda or Holmby, nor at home.

My boots are slightly too big. My feet slide a little bit inside as I walk, forward and back. By the end of my half hour roundabout they will have had a thorough falling-out with my socks who will have slouched and slid down and made annoying little ridges under the arch of each foot. My big boots make a crumping noise on the crushed crystals of the frozen snow. It's dark but for the puddled glow of the streetlights, strung like beads along each path and road. There, where the path curves away into the trees, one bead of light is missing. It's a little spooky walking the snail trail tunnel in the dark all alone. Crunch, crunch, crunch goes the ice beneath my boots.

Suddenly, I realize that I can hear crunching that ISN'T MINE. Is there someone following me through the shadowed snowscape and the wintry winds? I strain my ears and slow just slightly to throw off my stride and differentiate between my crunching and this new, not-me noise. Crump, crump, crump CRUMP. It's probably just someone walking their dog, the snail trail is a very popular place for dog-walking, since it's nearly the only non-paved, tree-lined path in the village. Crump, crunch. Earlier I passed Leo, the big-headed Rhodesian Ridgeback that lives across the street with our neighbor Tobias, but they were headed the other way, back toward the warm lights in their windows.

I can't take it anymore and swing around to look; the noise is RIGHT BEHIND ME.

There's no one there.

The little creek that runs beside the trail is silent and still though the water isn't frozen. It's a black shiny snake between the white banks. Someone took a snowplow through here a few weeks ago, the treadmarks are still sculpted and patterned, trimming each side of the path neatly. There are bootprints and pawprints between the icy patches. Evidence of new year revelry lies charred and forgotten beneath the birches. I keep moving, because it's too cold to stand still. There it is again. Crunch, crunch, crunch.

Suddenly, I realize where the noise is coming from and laugh: it's the little box of Tic-Tac's in my coat pocket, swinging back and forth with each step.

My chin stays tucked into my scarf, which is tightly snugged around my throat. I detest hats so in a concession to the elements (don't say it, idahoswede!), I've got a winter headband on, adorned with what else? Moose, of course. My arms swing freely, and by the end of the path I can feel my back and neck muscles loosening and lengthening with each stride. This is a good way to end the day, pulling out all the tensions and the bad posture and sending them flowing down each leg to be flung to the ground and stepped on, crunch crunch.

Ahead, the black silhouettes of a dog and a walker (rendered gender-free by the neutral blocking bulk of a down coat) pass over the street to the meadow and disappear. There is no one else about, until a child appears, walking rapidly toward me, an incongruous blow-up rubber boat hoisted over her head. "Hej," she greets me, without breaking her stride. "Hej," I return. There's no attempt at conversation with anyone on these walks; I suspect it would be different if there was a dog at my knee. My breath puffs and fogs, my glasses opaque and clear repeatedly.

Turning toward home, I turn into the wind. Holy snowballs, it's COLD. The fringe from my scarf reaches up and pats my face with soft and chilly fingers. My earlobes are so cold they feel pierced. I can hear the wild laughter and shrieks of children playing, the wind has picked up the sound and carried it clear over the village. I turn the corner around the library and see small capering forms lit against the white sheeted background of the meadow slope: they are having a snowball fight. A girl in a red snowsuit heaves a handful of packed roundness, no one will ever tell her she throws like a girl. It flies under the streetlamps, lit like a comet and whumps into the plowed piles at the edge of the hill. The boys jeer, relieved to be out of range, I suspect.

I am hungry now and head for my reward, virtuous with my half hour nearly gone: Anders has brought home sushi for dinner, the darling man!
 good
mood: good
music: Tanita Tikaram—Twist in My Sobriety


Comments

A moose headband! (I wish I had one!)

...to think of all the grey/humid/boring winters I endured as a kid/teenager in Skåne, less than a handful of them (2 or 3?) where white for more than a day or two. Wow, this certainly must be a remarkable winter in your part of the woods...

It's a little ragged around the edges, but since we got over a foot, it's stuck around for awhile, plus we live in a little dale where it tends to stick longer anyway :)

The headband is by Bo Bendixen of Denmark

So , I'll say it instead: "There is no such thing as bad weather only bad clothes"

*BITES YOU HARD*

And bites you right back...

you did have to go and end that beautifully written post with some raw fish in sticky rice! (yuck) ;-)

Mums fili baba!

Lovely writing. I smiled while reading it. And laughed at the tic-tacs! hehe

crunch crunch crunch...

I hate hats too. A Winter headband with moose on it sounds about my speed!

The headband is by Bo Bendixen of Denmark

(Anonymous)

I know you have NO idea what pierced ears REALLY feel like but will let that slide as it was a wonderful description and it does actually feel like that when it is that cold!
I got sushi for dinner last night!: )
Your Beeg Leetle Seester.

If that's what having pierced ears feels like, I'm kind of glad I have virgin lobes!

Go you for heading out there in the cold alone. Stick with it.
Right now I'm looking out the window at the cold gray simultaneously talking myself out of and into making a run. If I want to do it, I've got to do it now, but I hate being cold...and there will be no sushi waiting for me when I'm done.

What a sweet man, your Anders is. Apparently he voted for you as well. :)

:D Tic-tacs!!!!
I love when stuff like that happens!

(Anonymous)

o Liz.... this was the most marvellously satisfying and amazing post! Remember when you were asking about fave posts? This is unquestionably one of mine. it is so deliciously familiar and yet foreign at once and I love the kid with the rubber boat!!!

swon. I'm going back to read it again!

Adoringly as always, Wee

(Anonymous)

er...um... here's the "o" i mislaid when I fell into my swoon up there. Enjoy it in all it's roundness!

xo Wee

(Anonymous)

yes... i'm back yet a third time to tell you that whenever i read your banner at the top? I invariably read it as "now and then friends of the Ek family." And even though I actually know what it says, my brain always insists with an injured snort "I'm not a now and then friend of the Ek family, i'm a CONSTANT friend of the Ek family." And then I shake my head sadly at myself, this self being the same self which when I e-mail myself a comment and I hear the little in-box ding go off, gets all excited, even though I know full well that it is my comment sitting in the in-box and I already know what it says. That self? Is not particularly bright.

xo Wee (Constant Not Now and Then Friend of the Ek Family Four)

LOLOLOL!! You are too funny! And too cute! :D

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