I was driving around during the super cold snap, the "polar vortex" as they call it now, and simply happy to be warm. The car started. The seat heater was working.
Extreme cold weather and wind gives the city an otherworldly gilmmer. Plumes extend to the horizon. Light obscures and refracts. Clouds get weird and hazy themselves, while hard edges crisp. The ground almost vanishes as snow blows itself up into powder, blurring edges like the world is being Photoshopped. Through it all somehow the car still works and runs and speeds the dry buckling streets and loudly blows hot air at my head and gloved hands, and I feel lucky to be adjusting the radio in this hostile world.
And yet the street remains unfair. Even on a day when it's fifteen below zero and the wind is whipping, people are walking the streets of Saint Paul, huddled over their back to the wind noses poking out of thing scarves, standing on the street corner and icy sidewalks of the city. And even today, people are standing there waiting by the stoplight, numbly pressing the WALK button waiting silently waiting for people in warm cars to proceed for thirty seconds, two minutes, standing while the parade of people in warm heated personal vehicles processes by. On a day like this, the streets should stop and people walking should always have priority.
But the hierarchy of the street prevails, even when life is on the line. Cars get their way, constant streams of them, right turns left turns both directions, and anyone sorry enough to be walking along the sidewalks, to and from the bus, is held hostage.
It's like this every day, of course. In the heat or the rain or even on a nice day, where the people in private comfort have their way with the trudgers. But in the polar vortex it seems inhumane to force people outside to wait for you, and it is.