In this case, “Solo” refers to the gap between my posts and “refrain” refers to the post that I finally get around to writing! Or that’s my intent, anyway.
A few weeks back, I was astonished to see snow falling over Tbilisi. It was very cold and right around Halloween. Last year, Tbilisi didn’t see snow probably until January. Sure, we had a few flurries, and some of the surrounding hills and mountains got snowcaps real fast, but nothing worth writing home about. This year has been a completely different beast (which is why, incidentally, I am writing home about it!).
It all began a few weeks back when we got some good, real snow. It fell heavily and stuck around on Mtatsminda for at least a little while! I was a little worried as I prepared to head out in the morning. You see, I was listening to an excellent audiobook about Krakatoa–an Indonesian Volcano that exploded in 1883, creating the loudest sound in recorded history. It was heard 3000 miles away!!! (Great comparison from the book: “If a man from Philadelphia said he heard an explosion in Trenton, New Jersey, 30 miles away, people would look at him funny but maybe believe him. If he claimed to have heard an explosion in Wheeling, West Virginia, people would laugh at him and call him crazy. But if he heard an explosion in the San Francisco Bay, he must surely be delusional. That’s how far the sound of Krakatoa’s explosion reached.”)
This book takes place largely in equatorial Indonesia, with a volcano as its protagonist. As I prepared to venture out into the cold November morning, I glanced at the thickly falling snow and gloomily questioned, “How can I really get lost in my book if it’s freezing out?” And then it struck me. In a morbid stroke of genius, I decided to imagine that the falling snow was actually falling volcanic ash. It worked like a dream and I walked to work listening to the description of Krakatoa’s explosive self-immolation and picturing a heavy cloud of ash tumbling down around me.
Since that morning, so many weeks ago, It has snowed more times in Tbilisi than it did in all of last winter. This week alone, it has snowed four of the past five days and for three consecutive days over the weekend! Gvantsa and Natia told me that they couldn’t remember when it snowed for three days in Tbilisi ever. Eh. Ver.
I’ve been wearing my boots as I walk to work because sneakers just don’t cut it anymore.
This weekend, and well into today, giant flakes of snow fell ceaselessly. They prompted a flood of memories for me, like the time we had so much snow that we made a snowman and a fort on the roof of our house and ambushed the neighbors as they came up our driveway.
Or the time my dad and I walked Tilly (our late dog) in a blizzard. She LOVED the snow. She had terrible allergies and arthritis, and nothing made her come alive like a blanket of snow deadening her allergens and easing her joint pain. She would frolic and bury her face in snowdrifts like a puppy again.
During this particular Nor’easter, the snow was slashing sideways in a terrific wind. We put Tilly’s little coat on her and bundled ourselves up like Ralphie’s brother in A Christmas Story. Our 200 year-old farmhouse has a U-shaped driveway. Tilly never did her business on our property–she knew not to poop where she eats, so to speak. Dad and I had lots of good Father-Son bonding time on our nightly Tilly Walks. We had good talks about school, colleges, music, books, whatever!
We always took Tilly along one of several routes. There was the A Walk, through the Public Library’s backyard; the B Walk, around the High School; the C Walk, an autumn exclusive for getting in a trip to the orchard to buy apples; and the D Walk, a one-off walk with the rest of the fam to go check out the brand-new Middle School. Yes, I live in a small town and within walking distance of several schools, the library and an orchard. Remind me to tell you about the time I did some homework in the snow-bound cemetery!
So anyway, Dad and I get bundled up and take Tilly out into the Maelstrom. She’s tugging at the leash all the way down the driveway. Only our exposed cheeks and eyes can feel the snowflakes, but our very bones can feel the wind. Tilly beelines it for the other spur of the U and does her business right there. She promptly turns up the driveway and drags us back to the door. It was probably a one-minute walk. Despite her fur and our coats, we could not bear the frigid blizzard and returned inside for cocoa and a fire immediately.
Oh! Thanks for the reminder! In junior year of high school, we had a batty English teacher named Mrs. Perkins. She created a new-fangled Journal assignment for us to write twice a week. “Class, please write in a private, favorite place of yours. Like a particular couch in your house, or…your bedroom, or…a cemetery.”
I putzed around my house for a while that night, trying to find a “favorite private place” to no avail. So I put on my boots, grabbed a flashlight, a pencil, and some paper, and headed out to the cemetery. Our town has a pretty old cemetery. Old for America, anyway. Lots of people buried there from the early 1800s, which is pretty cool! My dad once tricked Myles into believing that “Baby Norman” was just a nickname for a big tough gang member, like the tattooed, enormous, “Tiny Big Man” who works at the full-service Shell Station across the street. Myles proudly pointed out to his best friend Edith that “Baby Norman” was a big, strong toughguy! “No he wasn’t, Myles. He was a Baby.” Edith is Myles’s voice of reason.
So I marched into the cemetery, hung my gloves and flashlight on a wrought-iron fence, and began writing. I had the foresight to bring snowpants, so I comfortably sat in the snow as I wrote. Unsurprisingly, I was the only person who actually wrote the Journal in a cemetery.
And so I bid you farewell! Hopefully for less time this time than last. I am out of steam. The steady stream of snow has seemed to slow, liquify, and become the much more familiar November Rain of Tbilisi.