The sky delivered on its promise of snow and by end of day a light accumulation covered the sidewalks. The temperature had dropped, turning some of the heavily trodden snow to ice.
Lillian made her way home with care, trying to avoid the slick spots on the sidewalks, and wishing she had worn her boots. Her thoughts were on fixing dinner for Tommy and Gabriel, but as she rounded the corner to her block, she was struck by the beauty of the street. She had never seen it in the snow.
She stopped and let her gaze linger up and down the street, taking it all in. The tree branches were delicately outlined in snow, as were the railings and balustrades of the brownstones. Dusk was deepening, and from the streetlights hung soft golden curtains of falling snow. She looked at the fading sky and wondered which paints she would mix for that shade, how to capture the nuances of that deepening blue-gray.
She caught the scent of wood fire from one of the chimneys, and deeply inhaled the clear cold air, thinking that it smelled of snow and softness and dusk.
Further down the street, some of the neighborhood children were out reveling in the first snowfall, laughing and shouting. Warm yellow light poured forth from the windows, holding the promise of the comforts of home.
Lillian’s heart was lifted, grateful to be a part of such ordinary loveliness. Sometimes she was flooded with such a feeling, almost like euphoria, but tinged with sadness because it was so fleeting. She had long thought of these moments as the edge of desire – a desperate longing for something beyond her grasp, just at the periphery of knowing. Yet ever elusive. While it lasted, she felt as though she had stepped into some heightened state, absolutely connected to life.
Just then, Mrs. Wilson, who lived in the same apartment building as the babysitter, called out from behind, pulling Lillian back down to the solidity of the sidewalk beneath her feet, the coldness of her fingers, the need to start dinner.
“Evening, Mrs. Hapsey. You must be frozen just standing there. What you need is a good head scarf, far more practical for keeping out the wind and cold.” She tightened her brown plaid scarf, and with a flick of her hand, gestured to some imaginary group behind her. “Let the other women wear their fashionable hats.”
“Good evening, Mrs. Wilson.”
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