Rain, Sleet, and Snow

Back in 2022 St. Padraic’s Day was blessed with spring weather. The next day was even warmer, especially since I had traveled south to the Northern Neck of the Potomac. Charles, Ms. Carolina, and I stood at the end of the dock. A super-sized moon roses over the far shore and the equinox sun set below a screen of yellow pines. The lilting breeze offered a promise of an early spring, even though the maples were leafless.

“Guess winter is over.” I stared into the Potomac. The temperature was in the 70s. The cold water wouldn’t kill me.

“Hush your mouth,” Ms. Carolina’s dog barked at my side. She had lived in Virginia over thirty-five years, but her childhood was a product of the Adirondacks, where winter holds onto the cold and snow for a month longer than anyplace else in the North, except Fort Kent.

“I have a good feeling for new season.” I flexed my knuckles. They had been weapons in the hundreds of fights waged over the decades. No cracking meant dry weather. Snap, crackle, pop was a good indication of wet.

“You goin’ in now, Yankee?”

“Naw, but tomorrow for sure.”

My knuckles were right about the moisture, however the temperature dropped through the night. Morning dew glazed the lawn. I defied my better judgment and performed my death-defying swim in the river. Ms. Carolina gave me a towel and her husband handed me a glass of Dewar’s Scotch.

“How long you think you could have survived in that water?” Charles had been an officer in the Navy. His friends had cruised the North Atlantic in warships. Not all of them returned home to Newport News.

“Four minutes.”

“A fisherman might make it ten minutes.”

“I heard of some people lasting 40 minutes.” My grandfather had a friend on the Titanic. He drowned in the Atlantic. My grandfather traveled to St. John’s to identify the body. It had been battered by the sea.

I leapt off the dock.

The river was cold.

I swam to the ladder and scrambled to the dock.

Barbara handed me a towel.

“You one crazy Yankee,” laughed Charles.

Barbara laughed too.

When I returned to Brooklyn the following night, Fort Greene had reversed the sweep of the season from spring to winter. Snow fell on Tuesday night and Wednesday evening was a melange of hail, snow, and rain. I wore heavy tweeds impervious to the cold and wet. Even my knuckles were safe from the chilly damp in cashmere-lined gloves. Ice pellets bounced over my Donegal cap. I was ready for winter, but not another two months of it and this weekend the forecast is for more snow.

Sadly Barbara lasted till the autumn and Charles passed two years ago.

I miss them both

But not that damn cold.

To see my plunge, go to this URL

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