Cracklin’ Fireside; Forward Musings

The winter was heavy set and cotton swabby this morning as we found our eyelids and brains in contempt of one another, the former opening to a grand new day while the latter clearly not recovered from a weekend of libation and nights so late they would likely feel more comfortable in a room full of mornings. Regardless, we eventually found ourselves opening up to this big new grandeur of a Sunday and — after suitably bundling up leafy scarves and hats of green — began a humble, ancient human tradition: the grocery shop.

Bitter chill was in the air but underneath our intoxication and fluffy jackets we managed to keep our feet in the dryer areas of cement and our outlooks as close to the sunny side as might prove possible; even given the giant stay puff starchiness of dotting white clouds on a perfect blue gazer of a sky, the depression of sludge and salt and icy looking where you’re going that a winter walk enforces can be drowning to the lung longing for summer.

But slowly as the distance from our house grew further and we neared our local Whole Foods, it was clear to me that this is a great time to be alive and in Pittsburgh. We’re on an anxious sort of state, the transition between stodgy old and vibrant fresh. If it were a horror movie, it would be that perfect time between the boring love scene and the knife wielding stab, where the music is building, high-pitched and rising, and though you know there’ll be some loud bang or quick movement leading to gore any moment, it’s not knowing the precise moment that has you on the edge of your seat. I love to be here while the city is in such a big transition, moving from what was to what will be, and getting to see it all happen.

To have lived here a few years ago would have been more depressing than anything, and indeed I did live here then and it was. To be here in another few years, who knows, but eventually things will change and the neighborhoods will grow into and around each other, the people’s attitude will migrate one way or another, likely not resting where they’re at now, and everything will be sufficiently different. Not better, perhaps, or any worse, but different enough to make it a very new experience upon our likely eventual return.

All the while we’re picking out milk and eggs and rennet-free cheese, if possible, and apricot preserves and avocados and minneolas or tangerines. The people in Whole Foods smile, diving into each shelf’s near-endless selection of exotic or defacto foodstuffs where the labels are surprisingly absent of marketing claims (for example, you won’t hear about how 9 out of 10 doctors recommended this or why you should eat only Product A for 30 days to lose 2 pounds) instead vying for simple truths like organic, locally farmed and no artificial flavors or preservatives. When you’re spending money on stocking your shelves full of tasty treats that are making your body run a little smoother, I guess it’s just enough of a good feeling to keep everyone pretty up in the air with the corners of their mouths.

Soon enough the snow will all have melted, spring will hint at being warm enough to find ourselves sitting outside on our local bar’s patio and swilling beers over sunny enough afternoons and we’ll be weeks away from trading in the lease on our apartment for the title to our very own home on the open range as we buy our RV and make due with making west…

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