Mack Williams: Cat paws

Published 12:00 am Sunday, December 17, 2017

The day the first snow of Winter 2017 began, I was lying in bed resting, taking a break from the bone-on-bone pain in my left hip socket, which, thankfully in January of 2018, like the one on the right, will become ceramic (but tougher than Royal Doulton).

The slats in the nearby window blinds were half open, and I detected an almost vibrant movement between them, but the “vibration” was going in only one direction: down. The look of it made me think my vision was being attacked by “albino floaters.”

The multiple, slender views were like individual frames of a film. I guess my raising of the blinds as a whole would have put the film together, kind of like an editor in a film-land studio.

If, as Carl Sandburg said “The fog comes in on little cat feet,” then this snow was coming on cat’s feet too, tiny, fluffy, white feline paws being softly planted.

Just then, I heard a siren in the distance. It probably had nothing to do with the snow, since the snow had just begun, but just the same, served to remind me how ill-equipped even the “northern-South” is in handling frozen weather.

Out of the glass doors on one side of my apartment I saw a neighbor’s white pick-up truck parked in the grass, grass beginning to become tinged with white, but nothing to match the pick-up’s “solid” white just yet.

I suddenly wished I had a copy of the old Golden Guide “Weather” in my back pocket, as I often did as a child back on the Old Concord Road during one of Winter’s precipitous days. I would thumb through it to the part about the formation of snow and read it once again, to the accompaniment of wonderful artwork there in that marvelous series of pocket science books written by different authors, but always tied together by the editing work of Herbert S. Zim (not to be confused with Nickelodeon’s “Invader Zim”).

And in an allusion to the old Golden Guide Astronomy volume, during this first Winter 2017 snow, the precipitation had repeatedly stopped and started, with varying concentrations of flakes each time, just the way some meteor showers seem to have more “fuel” than others.

As the snow continued, I found myself wondering if our science museum’s director would declare us closed the following morning. I then thought of the number of decades it’s been since the articulation of my day was under the “ministrations” of the Rowan County School Board.

At the moment I write this (but not the moment you read it), the snow is increasingly sticking to the grass, but continuing to melt to invisibility (water being colorless) upon reaching the asphalt. It kind of gives the impression that this amount of snow, like that in a snow globe is limited, measured, and through some subliminal shaking (or quaking) is being heaved up from the grass into the air, to fall again.

A later, brief sideways glance out my glass doors gave the impression that the “white volume” of that neighbor’s parked pick-up truck had expanded to such extent that the whole of the outside yard seemed filled with white pick-up trucks, as in an automobile sale lot (remember, just the impression from a brief sideways glance).

The heat pump kicked in almost as if it were in “snow panic.” I suddenly thought that if its fuel, instead of electricity, had been the same as mine, the heat pump would have somehow sprouted legs, pulled itself up, and headed off to Food Lion to overstock on milk, eggs, and bread (toilet paper, questionable).

I made it to work the following day, as the major street hazard was only wetness, the same as when it rains.

The following morning, on the way out to my car I saw strange “footprints” next to mine from the day before. From their size, I thought: “A one-legged cat?” I remembered about the snow seemingly having come in on cat paws, but thinking further, realized these prints had been made by my cane.

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