Sunday, February 12, 2006

Item from the Past: February Meltage

Feb 8, 2001

There was a party yesterday for the new offices of a major interior design company. As you might guess, they designed the daylights out of their own space, with all the touches that are in fashion these days, in your fashionable office. Don’t ask me what they are; that was just the sense I got. But the main party — and the food — was across the hall in some unfinished space. The kind whose concrete floors are naked, and whose ceilings are unpaneled, with ducts for all to see. The next time you see someone crawl through an air duct of an office building in a movie, don’t believe it for a minute. Pygmies couldn’t get through real ductwork.

My train delivered me afterwards to Westmont station at about 8 p.m., and at once I was walking through the thickest fog I’d seen in years. Great billows of it, limiting vision to a few yards or hazy pinpricks of streetlights, or the headlights of cars fool enough to be out driving (there weren’t many). The sidewalks were still icy in patches, but great meltage had occurred during the day, so cold pools stood in all the low spots. My Maine Hunting Shoes served me well.

As soon as I got home, the rain started, with some lightning, and lasted on and off through the night. By the next morning about seven-eighths of the snow cover was gone. This was hardy snow, too, having first fallen in early December. At about 10 p.m. last night I discovered that some of that water was taking a detour on its way to the Mississippi River drainage basin, through my basement. Not a vast amount, just enough to be annoying. Tonight, I will have to use the wet-dry vac to suck it up. At least the rain has stopped, and temps will be falling, they say, to delay further meltage.

Microsoft Word spellcheck doesn’t recognize “meltage.” Odd. My American Heritage New College Dictionary, however, does. That’s a language authority I respect more than Microsoft.


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