By Narcissa Lyons
As the snow whispered around the car, the tires not confident in the several inches of snow, I made it around the corner to the store for a few things before heading to the gym. As will happen on many a route, I passed a bar. I glanced in the parking lot to confirm what I knew I would see–that it was far from empty.
Invariably this gave me a warming feeling even though I was not one of them. What is it about a snow storm that makes some of us stay longer having been there before the snow began to fall, or even venturing out to get there for the spectacle outside the window? There are admittedly many that will have nothing to do with traveling in such conditions (sanefully so), and many that don’t drink so it’s never a thought at all, but I’m talking to the population that knows the deliciousness of this relatively rare event. Because unless you’re at the bar every day, the chances of this cozy experience do not come that often. It’s a matter of getting caught and the snow creating an excuse to remain a bit longer.
You work late and stop on your way home for a drink with a friend, and there are a couple of flakes that catch your eye as you open the door to the bar. In the back of your mind you tell yourself that time is limited, but that disappears as the music from inside and the warmth of the place embraces you in a way that is very different than a summertime, island-like vibe. Or maybe it’s windy, the snow whipping as you cross the street, and all you can think of is getting inside to avoid the cold and warm yourself with a drink and conversation. Perhaps it’s daylight and you need a break between chores and decide that one traipse into a shelter from careless weather is due. Understanding that this might not be a break at all, but sending that thought where it belongs.
You sit at the bar with your friends or on your own and there is what can be described as a conspiracy in the air. You can sense it in others in the room, and there is what looks to be just an edge more glee in their eyes, the air. Snow pelts and then slides down the glass, the crystals collecting quaintly in the corners, encouraging the scene within. People glance out the windows, and the snow, beautiful but unheard, is still appreciated. “It’s really coming down” someone says and people agree. “Man, look at that wind”. Not just nods, but eager nods. It’s not that snow is an enabler for over-indulgence because that isn’t usually the case. There is a reverence for Mother Nature, because her tacit motto is “If you fuck with me, I’ll fuck with you”, though mostly it’s just “I’ll fuck with you” (hurricanes, mudslides, tsunamis what have you), so testing that is not the intent and we’ve too much fear for her nasty moods. It is that the whiteness provides for a change to the routine just like it does for school children, just like it does for those prevented from going to work. It’s a camaraderie with your fellow pub mates and that you’re all safe in the building as the weather wreaks the havoc it will and that’s just fun.
People in colder geographies mightn’t have the same appreciation, but that doesn’t take anything away from the parts of the world that do. It’s a little like being part of a storybook, as if you’re some traveler and you enter a place, almost better if unfamiliar. The characters commiserate, swallow something tasty, and as the belly is warmed the stories of the various travelers unfold in between the usual banter. The bartender is in on it if he doesn’t live too far, and his amped up talent from behind the bar makes an ordinary beer an elixir. Possibly I am being nostalgic or rueful. It’s the beginning of the year you see, and I have begun another unforgiving diet that made me drive by one and then several luring, alluring joints no one the wiser, and I did not get to be snowed in at the bar.