It was the second day after the "polar vortex" hit us. The wind chill was something like forty degrees below zero, and the police were asking people not to go out. But Fourth Avenue Birkenstock had bravely stayed open, even though a huge percentage of its stock is sandals. And my daughter, Amelia, insisted on walking a mile there from our house to work her shift, and she got away before I learned how cold it was. Then my son, Zachary, insisted on walking there, too, to buy sandals--he was leaving in two days to spend a semester studying in Toulouse, France, and had to have them.
So I found myself walking along beside Zach, muttering under my breath that maybe I regretted raising them to be so stoic, with such a strong work ethic, and also trying to forget that Toulouse is vexingly close to the Mediterranean.
Zach headed straight home after making his purchase, but I went to the People's Food Co-op for some groceries. Outside, two men were huddled over cups of joe as always--one a Groundcover News vendor, the other an itinerant political pundit and panhandler. "Oh, we can handle ourselves," they replied when I asked them what they were doing out in this weather.