Two photos I took along the Merrimack River in Lowell, Mass., as a dark storm approached at about 9 in the morning….and the song I thought of as I dashed into my car and took shelter from the deluge.
One of the highest-traffic days ever for “Nicholas DiGiovanni’s World of Wonders” was a day during the presidential campaign when I wrote a satirical piece suggesting that Sarah Palin’s presence on the GOP ticket as the vice-presidential candidate was actually the fulfillment of the Book of Revelation’s apocalyptic vision as described in the secret message revealed by the opening of the Seventh Seal.
There were hundreds upon hundreds of page views and visitors (many of whom, I’m certain, thought the piece was factual, not satirical).
What did I learn?
One, that I guess I misread the Book of Revelation’s signs — Sarah didn’t get elected.
Two, I can draw many readers to my Web site (and its thought-provoking and eclectic mix of literary essays, humor pieces, cultural commentaries and original fiction) by once a week posting stuff I make up about Sarah Palin, who’s still out there running for something or other.
So here’s this week’s Sarah Palin report:
I rode out yesterday’s near-blizzard in New Jersey at a hotel located within a few hundred feet of the New Jersey Turnpike. At the height of the storm, I looked out at traffic crawling along that highway, saw a number of vehicles stranded in the breakdown lane — and there was SARAH PALIN, I’m assuming on the way to some Tea Party speaking engagement, and she was helping people dig out their cars and pushing them out of roadside snowbanks. She probably does stuff like this all the time when she’s up there in Alaska, but nevertheless it was really nice of her to take time off from her busy schedule to help people who were stranded by the snowstorm in New Jersey. She may actually have saved a few lives! I’m sure Sarah will be really low-key about her heroine-ism, but I think she deserves recognition.
He might be a character in a movie. Maybe someone who’s sitting in the shadows of a Tom Waits lyric or a Charles Bukowski poem, the lonely middle-aged guy who’s sitting alone at a booth in the back of the bar. And it’s nighttime, and there’s music playing on a jukebox, and the guy’s nursing his drink, pretending like he’s waiting for someone. But then he leaves — alone — and returns to his room at some anonymous hotel, The guy stays on the phone until the wee hours. There’s a snowstorm turning into a blizzard outside. He gazes out the window and watches cars and trucks slipping and sliding slowly along the New Jersey Turnpike. Then he tries to fall asleep, and he does, but a loud conversation in the second-floor hallway at 4 in the morning awakens him, and the guy rolls over in the king-sized bed and there’s no one on the other side, and he’s thinking of the song which asks “Ain’t it just like the night to play tricks/ while we’re trying to be so quiet? We’re sitting here stranded/though we’re all doing our best to deny it…” But then dawn breaks and the guy’s thinking it’s all about faith. And so his instructions say please send this bouquet quickly, direct from my heart to her heart, which I could hear beating softly but clearly faraway in the night, her heart which is so warm that it can melt the deepest snow.
I’ve spent a lot of time in New England this winter, but somehow I’ve managed to avoid serious snow.
Lately, though, snow’s been following me around.
I just got back from two weeks in Virginia, at a writers/artists retreat in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, and my popularity skyrocketed when a fluke snowstorm hit and my fellow writers/artists learned I’d driven down there in my 4-wheel-drive Ford SUV.
Then I ended up leaving the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts one day early, spooked by weather forecasts of a freakish monster storm — good thing I fled, as the storm dumped upwards of 30 inches on the region.
And now I’m hunkered down in Central New Jersey as a blizzard or near-blizzard is barreling in, expected to leave behind as much as 18 inches of snow, which will be whipped around tomorrow by winds of 40 mph.
But I’ve got a warm place to stay, I’ve got food, I’ve got the two most recent issues of two issues of the New Yorker magazine, I’ve got my laptop, I’ve got my cellphone and I’ve got a view of the N.J. Turnpike.
And I’ve got three perfect songs. They’ve all got that stark, cold, lonely sound of winter.
New England’s own Tom Rush sings Joni Mitchell’s “Urge for Going”:
Lindisfarne performs the beautiful “Winter Song”:
But let’s not succumb to those Cabin Fever Blues…Albert Collins sings about being “Snowed In”: