Snow Day


Posted on March 5th, by James McAllen in Uncategorized. No Comments

Like most everyone here in the northeast, I’ll be happy when the winter of 2014-15 has been relegated to the rear-view mirror. I don’t mind the cold that much, and I enjoy living in a four-season climate, but this winter has been a little more annoying than usual. We had a mild snowstorm back in December and the temperature has rarely been about freezing since then, so none of the snow piles have melted. This makes for disgusting icebergs and lost parking spots. We’ve had more single digit days than I can remember in quite some time, so other than work and food, the only reason that I’ve left the house is to go to the gym.

That has been happening less and less, although I won’t be able to blame the cold once spring arrives.

The cold weather has provided me with plenty of writing time, and I’ve taken full advantage. Kinda.
You see, I’m currently writing not one, but two books. This may sound like a great accomplishment, but it’s really just a great way of procrastinating while still pretending to be productive. That way, when anyone asks about the next book, I can honestly say, “I’m working on it”.

Today, it snowed in NYC. In fact, it’s still snowing. It’s rather beautiful although I suspect most people are tired of it. I had a scheduled appointment with my allergist for this afternoon, and while I was tempted to cancel it and stay home, I decided to brave the elements and keep my appointment.  Along the way, I decided that I would make a day of it. I realized that in my nearly 50 years in NYC, I had never been in Central Park in the snow. With that in mind, I grabbed my camera and jumped on the train for a day of adventure. I was finished with the doctor at around 2:30, and I hopped on the Lex and headed up to 77th street, figuring that I would walk south through the park and then head back home. I surmised that since it was a work day, and since it was snowing, the park would be fairly empty and I would be able to get some great photos of the empty park covered in a fresh blanket of snow.

Sounds like a good plan, no?

I walked down 77th from Lexington to 5th avenue and when I reached the park, I saw that it was indeed a beautiful winter landscape waiting to be captured by my trusty Sony point-and-click-for-idiots. I saw that the branches of the trees were weighted down with the light fluffy snow that had been falling since early afternoon.

I snapped this picture.

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Then the battery light started flashing.

Then the camera died.

I hadn’t used it in a while, so I never thought that the battery would be dead. Why would that even occur to me?

I headed inside the park, angry at my stupidity and slightly discouraged about my adventure, wanting to capture it for all to see. I wandered past the boathouse and over by the lake, marveling at the pristine landscape. The lake itself was frozen over and covered in several inches on freshly fallen snow. It was breath-taking and I had it all to myself.

Unless you count the hundreds and hundreds of tourists that were milling about. Taking pictures. With their cameras.

I quietly cursed them all and headed south where I encountered more people. And their cameras. All of them taking wonderful pictures of the beautiful scenery. There was even a film crew, students I imagine, shooting footage from the footbridge; footage of the frozen lake and the wonderful snowflakes and… well you get the picture.

I continued south until I go to my favorite spot in the park, The Mall. The Mall starts at the band-shell and terminates at the statue of Shakespeare at the far end of literary row. The ancient oaks reach over from either side of the path to form a natural tunnel. It’s always been a happy place for me. Today it was just pissing me off. Clusters of people were standing around taking pictures of the exact scene that I wanted to capture. People with Iphones. People with high-end cameras on tripods.

Suddenly I remembered the lessons from my Jr. High School physics class. I distinctly remember my teacher telling us that if you heated up a battery, forcing the molecules to speed up, you could extend the life of the battery. With this recovered knowledge at my disposal, (and with no lighter on my person since quitting smoking 4 years ago), I removed the battery and began to rub it vigorously between my palms hoping to ignite some of that precious battery juice. I popped it back in, and was able to take this picture.

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Then the battery died again.

My little adventure was turning out to be a bust. I continued south until I came to the pond (as opposed to The Lake, or The Reservoir). For some reason, the much smaller pond wasn’t completely frozen over. I noticed an older woman with a bag-full of bread and seeds tossing it on the side of the pond. When I turned the corner, I discovered that she was feeding what appeared to be no less than 100 ducks. They were everywhere; on the land, on the benches, frolicking in the water. In addition, there were dozens of chickadees and a few Blue Jays, all picking the seeds out of the snow.

They, of course, were surrounded by dozens of people with working cameras.

Undaunted, I removed the battery again and rubbed it like it was a Genie lamp, wishing that I would be able to get just one picture of this amazing scene.

No such luck.

I cursed my fate and decided to call it a day. As I made it around the pond, I was mindful of Holden Caulfield, the pretentious little shit that was the protagonist of JD Salinger’s, Catcher in the Rye. Throughout the book, Holden keeps wondering where the ducks that live in Central Park go in the wintertime, so much so that he asks several people the same question, only to find that they don’t know either.  I’ve read the book several times and I’ve never understood why people loved it so much. The writing is fair and Holden is… well, he’s an asshole. But the literary world loves it and the academic world thinks it’s a must read, so I must be one who’s missing something.

As I wandered along, a male mallard, with his green head and his white ring-collar, waddled across the path in front of me and hopped onto the frozen ice of the pond. It would have made a great picture, but alas….

Don’t worry Holden, the ducks are just fine.





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