Wednesday, January 29, 2014

In Which The Cold Sun Rises Over The Warde Hall Loading Dock

Sunrise over the MMU Warde Hall loading dock. I had to take my mittens off to mess with my id card, so I snapped this picture. The mittens kept the hands warm. Despite the warm boots, my feet are not happy with me, and my face is pretty darn cold. But I am here, and grateful to be here, after crossing the tundra.

A few degrees below zero, like minus 4. A bit of a breeze, with a wind chill in double digits below zero.

The C Avenue sidewalk: Plowed, but crusted with snow. It was better than most of the streets. One of my fellow MMU profs had been to Wisconsin over the weekend and unfavorably compared Iowa snow removal to Wisconsin snow removal—and, without hard data, but with plenty of experience with hard ice on pavement, I bet she’s right. In my own lifetime, slowly tightening state and local government budgets  have led to bare bones basic services, and in Iowa (and in Cedar Rapids) we seem to be forgetting how to do the hard work of clearing snow.

Rockwell-Collins: There’s a place that know how to plow a parking lot. Almost the least stressful part of the ride.

F and E avenues: F is marginal, but OK. E is a skating rink—and a mushy, sandy skating rink near Kenwood School.

It probably goes without saying that I had feet on the ground, sliding down the hill behind Kewoond School, but there, I said it anyway.

Eastern: Not too bad, as CR streets go. But lots of snow, lots of ice. I wanted to watch out to see if my bald eagle friend was hanging around, but really couldn’t watch the trees as I watched the street. Anyway, the crows weren’t cussing, so I’m pretty sure baldy must have been down by the river. Probably not in a van.

I arrived at MMU and took the Prairie Drive lot route up the hill because I figured (correctly, I think) that a sidewalk would be the uphill route most cleared of snow. Where cars do not drive, it’s easier for custodians to shovel.

Safe and sound, and grateful, I completed my morning commute. The loading dock door of Warde was locked at 7:45 a.m., so I had to take off my mittens and get out my id card, and took the opportunity to shoot a photo I call “sunrise at the loading dock.” Despite the chill morning, it was still a very pretty morning, and one advantage of being a bike commuter is the excuse to experience that beauty more deeply than car drivers, even on a cold winter morning.

According to KCRG at noon, it’s already above 20. The afternoon is sunny, and although I’m sure I’ll have to watch the street carefully, the ride home should be a bit less tense than the ride here was.

This will probably be the one bike ride of the week. It will be warm tomorrow (in the 20s—this winter, that counts as downright balmy), but snow is coming.

The psychology professor next door said this morning that he’s getting really tired of the cold. Psych profs, in my experience, are usually bubbly, happy people, at least on the outside, no matter what inner demons they’re wrestling with. When a psyche prof gets down about anything—well, it’s something.

On the other hand, January is drawing to a close. The northern world will be more filled with light, if not with warmth, in the coming, short month. And we’re well past the mid-point of this very, very cold winter.

CR Biker is happy for that!
Why we need a student newspaper reason number 16: So last week's paper can act as carpet-protecting doilies for bike commuters.

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