Snow brings warm thoughts of friends, treasures, music

March 01, 2003|By JACQUES KELLY

I HAVE A little confession. I've had a merry time during the last two weeks of what has otherwise been snow misery. For starters, I do not drive -- and live fairly close to work. So, on the Monday of the big one, I walked out my front door, onto St. Paul Street, and extended a hitchhiker's hopeful thumb. A pair of Jeep headlights were in the distance. They stopped, and my newfound friend, Harry Rider, of the Riderwood Riders, welcomed me in for a masterfully rendered trip to work. I think I even got in early.

I've also spent the past weeks fighting a case of cabin fever that has never had a chance to develop. There's not much else to do, so I walk in the atmospheric land of snow and shadow. The storms often knock out the streetlights and make the city seem a little more 19th century in appearance. When the fog rises, it's even better.

Urban snows create some highly social times. I was delighted by all my neighbors who took to the streets -- on foot, with their children.

One night, early in the high drama, I spotted a pair of parents who had rigged up an effective sled, using, I suspect, what they found around their home. They cut two holes in the lid of a large plastic storage chest, secured a rope, and pulled their 3-year-old through the byways of Charles Village. And as they passed me, the three chatted away in what certainly sounded like Russian.

On another trip out, I sought comfort in the local gathering spot, the Charles Village Pub, but it was closed. The Sunday of the big snowfall, so many restless people had crammed inside that they cleaned out the kitchen and drank the well dry. That will teach me not to delay in the snow.

My sister Ann, visiting from Delaware, used her snow-marooned time in Baltimore to clean the cellar of the old family house on Guilford Avenue.

While digging through that cavern's deeper recesses (my family is opposed to de-accessioning) she located the original purchase contract to the home, signed by our great-grandfather in 1915. The documents revealed its price, a big, three-story house for $4,500.

The weather people have been issuing many doomsday snow warnings of late. When one came Wednesday evening, I thought about how I could outsmart it. Lady Macbeth of Mtsesnk was at the Lyric -- and with the predictions, I predicted there might be a seat for me.

When I reached the old music hall, the scene at the front door looked like an impressionist painting. Music lovers, wrapped in sensible heavy coats and hats, were crossing Mount Royal Avenue. Some headlights cut though a light snow. The old B&O Mount Royal Station clock kept time. It all seemed very much in the spirit of the Vivat! festival we're supposed to be celebrating. Indeed, there was a seat. And plenty of my friends had made it out as well.

And when I emerged, there was a little more snow. And as I headed for Charles Street, and a cab ride home, I thought, just close your eyes and imagine it's St. Petersburg.

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