Snowy Diamond

“Can you believe this?”, pronounced one of the provocateurs at our breakfast table. He incited misplaced seasonal phrases none of us wanted to say like, “There’s crappy white stuff out there.” & “What the hell is this?”. As the three of us looked through our favorite cafe window, the snow blew expectations of a sunny, warm April day out that same clear glass and we certainly felt the pain. If only momentarily, the winter angst revisited us like Grinch looking over Whoville … ready to steal any positive, happy packaged belief we had about a snug, comfortable Thursday.

Yes, the snow blew. We felt it in our souls. Diamonds in the rough we pretend to be every day as time passes over easy eggs, rye toast, and occasional slabs of scrapple dripping with maple syrup – depending upon our mood. These are the Hollidaysburg days uptown or downtown depending upon one’s idea of direction around here. Pennsylvania times few of us – a scant half dozen, or so – get to experience sitting in a booth by a window.

Tracks in the snow during an April blizzard were left by anxious feet and rubbery tires as they made haste coming up the street toward “the diamond” – an intersection where The Capitol Hotel has been taking up residence for decades. Trolley cars, horses and buggies both have passed leaving their historical marks in the snow for us to remember in pictures hanging elegantly on the walls inside. Portraits from the past showing those who’ve previously passed our time and left marks on our hearts. I’ve seen their faces and places they’ve lived and loved. The intersected ground on which I stood moments earlier experienced their lives … in person. Where Allegheny and Montgomery streets cross? Today, a snowy diamond.

So we sat for a few moments watching this event … a mini late-April blizzard. The urge to put my amateur film-making skills into place overtook hunger, so outside I went. The 15-seconds above are meant to highlight the wind current event, certainly not my Spielbergian sense of cinematography. It wasn’t cold, but a bit breezy. The window creaked as I rose from the booth – as if to say, “Where you goin’, son? … Breakfast hasn’t been served and your friends aren’t done talking.” To be fair, they never stop talking, anyway, so there would not have been a quiet time for me to politely excuse myself. Impulse overtook my instinct to feed the grumbling belly inside. The doors welcomed my exit. Strangely enough, so did my ever-so compassionate friends.

Strangely quiet it was. Save the bundled gentleman who appears in the final second, nobody was astir. Whoville-Hollidaysburg contained a presence unopened at 8:25 a.m. during what should’ve been sunny, early spring awakening. Snow capped cars sat unattended as their otherwise occupied owners were busy going about their business. At that hour, I suspect most were either at The Capitol having the same conversation as my friends, banking nearby, or preparing to shop at one of a few delightful shops about ready to open. Retail isn’t a huge walk-around here, but happening-Hollidaysburg always has dreams afoot and folks will enter into those ambitions as the fates allow.

Fifteen seconds was enough to capture my thoughts. Oh, and I was able to avoid getting wet by standing under a magnificent human porte cochere Brian had installed a few years ago. As I stood there with memories forty years removed from high-school band appearances and only a few feet from where my grandmother had her gift shop, flurries of white stuff continued to cascade down and sideways. I saw winter remembrances coming back as cinematic flashes while looking down over the hill toward what used to be the movie theater. Across the street, the old five-and-dime – G.C. Murphy building – was a row a retail/office buildings being caressed with soon-to-be melting snow. The large, multi-floored furniture store across the way has been converted into smaller stores where imaginations have gone to flourish and generations have lived … and passed. It’s a hometown for most of us. Just like thousand of others, except this day a snowy diamond in the rough had us somewhat perplexed.

Bemused only to a point, though. After the questions were asked and I re-entered my safe space, the friends so eager to welcome my exit graciously embraced the return of their favorite amateur cinematographer. No answers necessary. All of us knew this off-season adventure into blah-blanche wasn’t going to last long. Conversations shifted into politics, personal profundity, and sarcastic wit. You know, the usual morning banter before all of us departed into our normal activities.

The Grinch does apologize for his shenanigans. I’m waiting for Mother Nature’s sorry butt to ring me an, “I’m sorry!” for her apparent dust upon our little ‘burg. In the mean time, I will believe what happened … because it did. THIS should answer the question first posed by one of my friends. As to the “crappy white stuff”? It wasn’t. I saw it as an opportunity to breathe in the remaining fresh, cold air of memories before a hot, humid summer of challenges visits me.

I guess it’s all about living in the moment. Even if we say to ourselves, “What the hell is this?”, it’s still a life to live … and that’s ok. One snowy or brilliant, wonderful day at a time. Inside or outside a favorite cafe, we’re all diamonds in the rough.

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