First real snowfall, 8 inches, fell fast. The road I live on lies in a bona fide hollow between two mountains, and it's about 300 years old. Up this way there are about 10 houses and a trailer spread out over about 3 miles to the end of the road, which used to continue all the way up through the pass, but now it's a hiking trail.
A few families lived on this road for hundreds of years, though few are left, among them my closest neighbors. Some of his older brothers and sisters were born in the house I live in. The birthing room was where the kitchen sink is now.

When the snow stopped everybody came outside who could, comparing notes on the snowstorm. How many inches, 6, 9? Near a foot? My closest neighbor said, Not even winter yet. His wife said, Just so long as I don't wind up in the hospital. Too many people in the hospital these days. She said she hoped 2006 be a better year for everybody. Turned to the mailorder catalogue she calls her wishing book, pointed out snowboots for $14.95.

Everyone's got their wishing book. And there is no question that there are ghosts around here just as there is no question there are bears around here. The ancestors watch over the living just as the snow falls in the hollow. Sometimes a name will slip into conversation when it has no business in there at all, but the oldtimers say that's just so-and-so, tapping on your shoulder.

photo: Marcus Leatherdale

Clinton for president again.

December 7, Miami: Luggage belonging to Rigoberto Alpizar, 44, is blown up after air marshals shot and killed Alpizar on the runway at Miami International Airport. Bullets were used on the human,
a bottle of water was used on the luggage.

No bombs were found.


'The body of a homeless man was found huddled next to a fence in Denver, where the temperature hit 11 below Wednesday, and authorities were trying to determine if he froze to death. He apparently had shed his jacket in a phenomenon called "paradoxical undressing," where victims of hypothermia become disoriented and hallucinate, deputy coroner Amy Martin said.'

Roy and Anna were sitting around a table, hands cupping warm cups of coffee, when Roy pointed to this news item and said, Hey. There's a metaphor in this.

Roy spent a lot of time by himself and looked for deeper meanings anywhere, like in the pattern of field mice tracks in the snow, leading to and from his basement.

Anna was his wife until last year, when she moved out. She got tired of watching him try to decipher runes in the snow. Now they just had coffee together.

Paradoxical undressing
, Roy read aloud, then repeated a few times.

Anna said, Roy. The man died.

Paradox. Pa-ra-dox. That's like, it's so cold that I'm burning up, Roy said. That's deep.

It's chemical, Anna said pragmatically. With Roy she had developed a reflex of never letting him explain a deeper meaning to her. The last straw was the day she packed her bags, and he thought it significant that the luggage tags on the suitcase were blank.

It's like Icarus, Roy said, rereading the news item. He was really searching now, nose deep in the earth, tracking those analogies.

No it's not, Anna said. It's terrible and sad.

If he really thought it was hot, maybe he thought he was in Jamaica or something.

This is not your little springboard, Anna said. Just leave him alone.

So they did, Roy said. He tapped on the table with the side of his thumb, staring at it. He said, I think a few years ago, when I had frostbite? It felt like my fingertips were on fire. So this must have been like that, only times a thousand. Maybe that's what happened.

You are fourteen, Anna said. I am not even sure that frostbite thing ever happened.

Maybe he felt nothing, Roy said. Maybe he felt immortal. The meaningful, I mean the cosmic, side of the paradox then, would be: cold is mortal, hot is immortal.

Cold will always win, Anna said.