Today, the sun is shining and birds are soaring above a chilly city, where the only traces of a recent snowstorm are dirty packages of frozen condensation resting at the foot of street signs.
But life two weeks ago wasn’t so carefree.
By Wednesday afternoon, meteorologists and weather forecasters were sending a panicked chill down the city's spine, tipping an uncertain “three to 30 inches” of impending snow. Snow that would have set The Frederick News-Post reporters into overnight-at-the-office mode, and scared local residents into hoarding sidewalk salt and prepping for a school-wide snow day.
New Yorkers are no calmer than Fredericktonians: The metered line outside of Trader Joe's on 14th lasted for at least two blocks, and my teacher-roommates kept their fingers crossed for a Friday spent home from work. City dwellers dusted off the snow boots hiding in the back of the closet and battened down the hatches, preparing to be wowed by a blizzard named after a Pixar favorite.
But wowed no one was. As a few inches of fluffy white condensation carpeted the city Friday, the subways continued to run, the bars continued to hand out alcohol, the office buildings continued to buzz. It wasn't enough to stop me and a visiting friend from trekking through slushy puddles for French toast and a six pack.
The incessant bug eating away at my immune system, however, was enough to knock me out like a heavy wind toppling an unsteady power line to the ground.
As one storm swam into town, another was brewing in my warm, humid body ? a sickness that climaxed Friday night with my this-must-be-death proclamation and frantic calls to an absent doctor. Unlike Mother Nature's wrath, the malady came over me without warning: There were no text alerts reminding me to stock up on liquids and medication; no one standing in front of a green-screen pointing to imminent levels of stomach pain and headaches.
When I did leave my apartment — a few hours of reprieve from the box that held me for the next four days — the city came to my rescue. There was no need to leave my car running while the defrosters work their magic, my hands losing feeling with each passing push of the ice scraper. No reason to shovel heaps of packed-in snow from around my vehicle's tires while hoping my back doesn't give out. Never a care about tires losing traction or hitting a patch of ice that sends me and my killing machine into a frenzy. Just a Metro card, a pair of gloves, knee-high boots, and a frozen smile.
As the snow washed away, so did my flu symptoms, leaving only a whisper of my voice, a whooping cough, and muscles too weak to contract. And once I felt capable of riding the subway without trembling legs and a dizzy spell, I rejoined the world of the living ? the same world that had just awoken from a snow-capped dream.
By now, as the birds chirp overhead and sunlight washes over my pink-from-the-cold face, the two-block walk from the subway station to my apartment displays little of winter, save for the smoky breath pouring from the mouths of passersby.
And one day soon even that will pass. Though, judging by my track record in this city, another storm is never far away.
Stephanie Mlot writes a regular column for fredericknewspost.com.