Muffled footsteps in snow

Harry Drabik

Sometime last night the plow came. I heard nothing. That meant looking out as the day opened I was surprised to find a cleared drive. Snow has a muffling effect. Even the form that goes skreek skreek underfoot doesn’t carry far. So far (still recovering from an illness) I’ve not assessed the latest fall beyond poking my head out to do a minute’s sweeping outside the door. Airy light as this snow is adds to its muffling ability. This particular snow has another attribute; that of leaving a white ridge on the sill of every window. There’s usually enough wind to clear the sills or limit windowsill accumulation to one direction instead of universally to the four corners. For those of spiritual inclination a fluffy accumulation on the four corners of the circle of life might be good fuel for cosmic consideration. The practical minded might simply find comfort in snow that’s puffy light instead of the stuff that weighs a ton and culls out elderly males (an otherwise privileged group) with outdoor heart attacks that gladden morticians with pre-cooled bodies and no tight womb like hallways from which the deceased must be extracted and Caesarian removal is not allowable.

I suppose I’ll end up poking at the snow on and off most of the day. A week in a hospital makes one glad of freedom while being uncomfortably reminded of the unavoidable fact of bodily weakness. Recovery from most things is a process requiring time and steps calculated and refigured as you plod forward. Of course we desire speedy improvement and would like to go somewhere where a three day program would spit us out good as new. Good luck there. Life is not the swift process of instant messaging. I’d suspect social media means little to the person getting an IV drip as they struggle to remember what actual food tastes like. Texting is not for those with an arm immobilized by tubes. I tried to find some joy being incapacitated; no cooking to do and no household toilet to scrub. That’s not much cause for celebration but it will do.

When young my first hospital stay was scary and comic. As an eight year old I dreaded the fearful thought of surgery to remove tonsils. On the comic side was before I was to meet the knife I was allowed to wander the halls in a garment with an unconventional slant on modesty. In brief this was an adventure; one that promised ice cream at its end. I recall much of the event, most especially the mask over mouth and nose. I was told “Breathe” because the smell of ether wasn’t all that pleasant. “Breathe again,” I did and a sudden drape of unknowing took me far away. My more recent medical internment adventure was a reminder of the marvelous way the soup will be chilly and the gelatin warmly runny. How do they do it with such faithful repetition? Given a special diet to follow at home I’ve yet to perfect the hospital precision of producing tepid soup and warmed Jell. Well, they are professionals and I am not.

Three days into my hospital voyage I was taken off guard by a bowl of soup that was actually hot enough to scald. I assumed some amateur was responsible and took comfort in runny gelatin. By then I must have been feeling better because the staff removed from reach and room anything I might have used as a (purely defensive I assure you) weapon. Warning visitors “Don’t get too close” was not due to my being contagious. How satisfying it was being well enough to be objectionable. The blessings of health are not the same for all.

Once home someone asked me what I had against poor JK Rawlings. Didn’t I know I was vastly outmatched? Of course I did, but as a democratic being I feel no obligation to set reason aside and be agreeable when the famous and influential make me glad they have but one vote and it is equal to mine. If an important person claims to remember something they can’t have memory of or says they’ve been years in a place that does not exist it is not only appropriate but necessary to call them out for it. The ravings of a successful or admired loon are of no more real merit than a high sounding discourse on proper use of magic wands. Useless is useless. To be taken seriously requires some demonstration of an ability to be accurate and considerate of facts. If JK was alone in her delusions it would matter little, but by acting as if her silliness and inability to account we lower standards of understanding and debate that need much more than wishful ideas and empty assertion if we’re to work on actual attempts to solve serious concerns. The heeding of blithering nonsense is not a likely way forward. 

Sadly, this view is easily pushed away when progress, truth, and a new future  is embraced by the faithful as if magic was real and all that’s needed is belief. A recent example of the baleful tendency to put wishful before reason came bubbling from the mouth of Canada’s J Trudeau. In a public meeting the child-of-charm stopped a questioner who used “mankind” and told her he (was that a set up or not) preferred “peoplekind.” The applause was vigorous for Harry J Potter doing politics as wizardry. Who sees male bias in mankind or the word humanity? Who believes saying peoplekind magically erases the origins of Smith, Diaz, or Wong? In general we humans are attached from birth to our origins and native languages. That doesn’t go away by swapping (in English I’ll add) labels. It was plain old fashioned one-step-at-a-time effort that got us here. The process can’t be shortcut. All of us, you included, should balk when fanciful magic wand solutions are waved around as solid stuff. Vision is great, but demand comparison, fact, and reason to back it up. Progress doesn’t come with the poof of a wand, and neither does repair of the consequences of believing it does.