Today the wind was constant and bitter cold. It stung and froze and was something to hide from, to fear. I wore ankle to wrist long underwear, white and waffle-weave. Silly looking and cheap, but an important layer. I wore normal cotton socks and normal gym shoes, which I regretted, as they have mesh panels. I wore jeans over my long underwear, a Tshirt on top. Then a sweatshirt with a hood, then my wool-blend skirted coat that goes to my knees. I pulled up the hoodie’s hood, squeezed a hat over top of it, wrapped a scarf over it and my coat, then put on my hooded raincoat, pulled up it’s hood and tied it. Put on gloves, cracked two hand-warmers and put them in the raincoat’s pockets. Then grabbed my stop sign, thanking my lucky stars that Justus had given me white grip tape to stop the handle from slipping across the fabric of my gloves and going flying in the wind.
This morning it was at least as cold as yesterday, but with no wind, the morning felt safe, painless. Easy. I was loaded for bear, having experienced the cold yesterday, and wore warmer shoes with no mesh, and proper leather fur-lined mittens that go to my elbows. I put my earflap hat on over my hoodie’s hood again, and tied it under my chin. Got rid of the raincoat altogether. Didn’t need it with no wind. But then the wind came up. I was so glad for the hat, tugged it down farther on my forehead, adjusted my scarf to make sure it was secure. But believe it or not, I didn’t need the hand-warmers today. The mittens, stopping the wind, stopped the need for them.
The sky was winter blue, and the light sparkled on the fountain and the water, the wind making the big dry leaves flip and tap on the sidewalk, the constant sound of people walking. It’s hard to see behind me in the winter, the hood and the scarf make it hard to turn my head, my body feeling bulky and slow in so many layers, the fluffy hat occluding my peripheral vision, the ear-flaps covering my ears and making hearing the little sounds of people approaching harder, the dry leaves making children’s feet tapping on the sidewalk sounds, which means I ignore the Actual feet tapping sounds after a while.
Most of the little children have piping high voices, and are happy and make noise all the time. It’s my polite, quiet, sad children I worry about. They will walk up to my crosswalk and wait while I turn my back on them and walk out of the street, not knowing they are there, or even worse, the quiet four year old who doesn’t know any better than to dart into the street just after I’ve put down my stopsign so the cars that are waiting can steamroller him.
Honestly, people cross streets all the time when I’m not there, and almost all of them make it. But because it is my job to make Sure, 100% sure, that nothing happens on my watch, I worry. Perhaps I can figure a way to keep my ears warm but still working. Not sure that will help when the clattering leaves are replaced with soft snow. Different problem, same effect. Eyes sharp, head on a swivel. Maybe the hoodie needs to go. We’ll see.