Photograph by Brent Wiggans
By Bernadette Gambino
For the first time in many years, I woke up to snow. For the first thirty-eight years of my life I lived within sixty miles of DC and had enough snow to last a lifetime. While it is quite lovely for the first day I can't wrap my head around the romanticized notion of snow that I've heard expressed by those who have never seen it. The reality is that snow is miserable. Because I lived in a rural area, my roads often weren't plowed for days. If the snow was heavy, it would pull down power lines and we would be without electricity with no way out. The absolute worst snowed-in time I can remember was when my youngest son was an infant. An early wet snow left us without power (and water). We pulled a mattress into the living room and our family of five piled on and lit the kerosene heater. It wasn't so bad until the baby started vomiting. Of course, there was no way to either clean it up or to get away from it. I grabbed the kids and told my then-husband, "Do what you want; Iím leaving." I think he came along with me and the boys. I remember we managed to get off the mountain I did have a four-wheel-drive vehicle and stayed at a not-great motel in town. At least we had water and power.
These kinds of memories taint my appreciation of snow. I would be happy if I never saw it again. Since moving to Florida, I have been snowed in several times on visits back. The last time was Christmas of (I think) 2009 when I was trapped at my mom's house in three feet of snow. My mother said I was like a caged animal; even if there is nowhere I need to be, I can't bear the thought of not being able to leave if I want to. I have heard it snowed in Jacksonville in 1989, and I'm glad I didnít see it. People there have a hard enough time driving in rain; I'd hate to be on the road with even a dusting of snow. Up north, drivers are more used to it, which doesnít necessarily mean they are good at it, but generally those who are terrible at driving in snow know enough to stay home.
I don't think the snow today will amount to much. The cars were covered and some big flakes were flying around. It stuck to the ground a little but seems to have tapered off. The kind of snow to worry about isn't big and flaky but little, rain-like and steady. That is the stuff of blizzards. And so, as I look out the window, I am able to appreciate, if somewhat grudgingly, the fleeting flakes and the beauty of a snow-dusted lawn, with the knowledge that it will all be gone in an hour or two.
Still Life with Cans by Fabio Sassi
I'M IN LOVE WITH MY CAR
By Bernadette Gambino
Fernando waits patiently in my driveway, a most beautiful beast, Metallic Pewter body, Bose speakers ready to crank out my favorite XM stations. His buttery leather seats adjust to virtually any position to ensure my maximum comfort and even heat up for those rare chilly Florida mornings. He is beginning to show signs of age; this only makes me love him more, knowing that each tiny dent in his armor or bit of interior wear can be traced back to some happy adventure we shared. We have taken many long voyages, Fernando and I, and our history is long and complex.
Fernando has taken me to the great frozen north to visit family and friends on at least eight occasions, and has ventured off on many sides trips Baltimore, Washington, Ocean City, to name but a few destinations while on those longer trips. He has driven me hundreds of miles west across I-10 to visit my oldest son and granddaughter when they lived in Dallas, a stiflingly boring drive improved only by his comfortable accommodations. He has taken the insults of my granddaughter's early attempts at ice cream eating and still proudly bears the backseat scars of Pink Bubble Gum Pop.
In my sons' high school days, Fernando escorted us to band practices and competitions throughout the state over the course of many years. If we needed to pile in more kids or more stuff, it was never a problem. Fernando welcomed all. He has carried us through our more boring day-to-day errands too with style and grace, and taken me to work and first dates, parties and beach trips.
Fernando now sits lonely and bored, idle for a full month until I am sufficiently recovered from shoulder surgery to take him out. He watches other cars stop, sees me climb into them, and stands stoic and proud. I know he would rather be with me as I travel to my therapy sessions, but he understands that I must rely on others for now. He really isn't just a means of transportation for me; he is my friend, and I love him.
By Bernadette Gambino
I'm lying in bed, cozy in my nest of pillows, ready to fall asleep as fantasies of my physical therapist play like a Lifetime movie in my head. I have almost drifted off when I hear it: the scritch-scratch of wings in my room. I try to ignore it as Blake massages my neck and whispers softly in my ear, but the wing-noise finally overwhelms the sweet nothings and I have to get up and find the source. It is a black moth, clinging to the top of the wall in the corner of my room. I get the broom and manage to knock it out of the corner. But where is it now? It didn't fly out. So I leave my room door open, light off and turn on the living room light in the hope that this industrial-strength black moth will be attracted to brightness in the way moths proverbially are. I go to the kitchen, pour a glass of water, stand and look around. It's too late to be up; I have things to do tomorrow. I briefly consider starting those things now, letting the moth have my room for the night, maybe just staying awake.
I'm not afraid of bugs; I simply prefer not to sleep with them. Before I moved to Florida I lived in the mountains, and bugs were always in the house Ė spiders were the worst. A snake even came in once. But I don't have bugs in my house here usually. If I happen to see one I spray the house and do'ít see any more for months. I can't spray my room right before I sleep. I'm not sure the bug spray I use kills moths anyway, and I don't necessarily want to kill it. I just want it out of my room. If it were a light airy moth, I wouldnít care, but one that is big enough and tough enough to make that kind of noise might bite. Do moths bite? I go back to my room to look and listen.
I'm tired and I don't see or hear anything, so I go back to bed. I lie there a long time, thoughts of my therapist replaced by longings for Mr. Sandman. But sleep, like love, is slippery and the more I try to grasp it, the more elusive it becomes. Now I can't find a comfortable position for my arm; my pain patch isn't working. Or maybe I'm still worried about the moth joining me in the covers. For whatever reason, sleep is long in coming but finally it does a restless, fitful night. Again as with love, that little taste has whetted my appetite for more. Now though I won't seek it; I will force it to find me.
I'm on my porch, sipping my first cup of coffee, squinting away the too-bright sun, not ready to be awake but frustrated with trying to go back to sleep, looking over my list of tasks for the day, already deciding which items I can move to tomorrow. The whereabouts of the moth remain a mystery. One item Iím adding to today's list: vacuum my room floors, walls, ceiling. Tonight I will sleep.