Friday, November 25, 2005

A blustery day in Chicago

There was an intermittent whomping of the bushes outside my window through out the night. The wind was biting cold and furious, never letting up. It was so comforting to be sitting in the cozy room, and under the blankets, watching the wind play havoc outside.

I casually glanced at the clock. It was 6.30 am. It was a Wednesday, and I was in no particular hurry to get up (read get out of the oh-so-warm bed). And then there were temptations to stay in; there was a book on the bedside table, which also held my laptop with the internet connection. The TV remote was within reach and the curtains on the window were drawn. If that was not incentive enough, the menu lay open to the breakfast page. I could simply call room service. There I was, lying in bed, isolated, yet connected in so many ways.
I chose the book (But naturally!) The escape it offers is incomparable and this one was by a particularly favourite author. Dog Stories by James Herriot. The atypical country vet painting the myriad colours of his practice. I was soon lost in it. A steaming cup of black tea soon gave up on me and turned cold.

It was 10 am and didn’t seem like it. The storm had not abated a bit and the sky was as dark as ever. I had not seen the sun for some days now.
I was hungry but loathed dressing up to go to the café for chow. It may seem strange to some, but I have this feeling of ‘fullness’ after reading. The matter I have just gone through keeps me engrossed for a while. This same feeling surfaced after I had put down Dog Stories. This time my stomach disagreed. I put on my Saturday best and was off to drown my feelings of fullness in a cream topped waffle. (yeah yeah!).
As soon as I left the confines of the building to cross over to the café, the chill gripped me. The wind ripped off my heavy flannel lined wind cheater and treated my hair to an invigorating blow dry. The cold factor took some time to register. I decided to remain there. A pretty limestone seat had been installed among the shrubs. (They knew I’d come along someday J )The waffle could wait.
The agitating air had no particular direction to take. It whipped leaves about, it shook parked cars and it tossed wind cheaters. It was interesting to watch the dance of the leaves to the tunes of the wind. Sometimes they marched all in one direction, others they took a spin. Anyone who lagged behind was soon raked up in the flow. It was no use sweeping the driveways; Fall had left enough leaves behind to let the wind have his amusement.
If there is anything in the world that closely resembles feeling on top of the world, it is to feel the wind in my face and sense it rip through my hair, short as it is. Time and again, I have surrendered myself to this experience and it never fails to enthrall me. And so it did on that blustery day. I thought of Pooh Bear with all his honey jars, floating along with Piglet in the deluge to Christopher Robin’s house, wishing everyone a Happy Blustery Day!

When my ears did not feel mine anymore, I knew it was time to escape inside. The Maitre knew me and led me to my favourite place by the fire (a real fire with logs et al, mind you). A newspaper appeared soon after I had placed my order. France is burning, New Orleans is still wet and out of bounds, President Bush threatens to block the bill against ill treatment of POWs and all is well with the rest of the world. My breakfast arrived. I kept the paper away and was soon reduced the waffle to smithereens. Newspapers and breakfast don’t go well together anyway.

My hesitation about leaving the warmth of the bed for a visit to the café had caused time to fly. Perhaps it was out there flying when I was enjoying the weather. I cared not. I gazed at the fire some more. It seemed like a good thing to do till the Maitre got my check. Then it was back to the room for me, for Herriot beckoned. Herriot stories have the amazing ability to cheer up anyone and infuse a feel good spirit. Though, this is not the only reason I like his works.

But sometimes even the best of the books are no match for a stomach filled with a warm, maple syrup dipped waffles. I considered a siesta. I can’t remember the last time I had such an unhurried existence.

It had been gloomy and dark throughout and as I awoke, it seemed that the sun had finally broken through the clouds. I went to the window and peered out for a better look. This brightness was no sun, it was SNOWING!! The snowflakes replaced the leaves as the wind’s favourite toy. They were all over the place and on the roof, the trees, bushes, cards and the street. I had to go out, period!!

The wind cheater came on, so did the gloves this time. And I was prepared for the icy current outside if it tried to undo my armour. The flakes flew all around and I caught a few on my tongue. I did not know since when it had been snowing but now there was blanket of white all over. This was Chicago’s first snow of the season and it heralded the approach of the holiday season. Now thanksgiving was nearer than it seemed.

My lethargic disposition that day left me with a reduced appetite. I still had to give my packing a final look over. My flight was due later in the evening and I had to leave for the airport soon. I sauntered back in to the warmth looking back on this day.

A blustery day. A singularly fulfilling day.