I had a scheduled lunch with a client at The Peninsula Hotel on Fifty-fifth Street where Deborah was staying. The storm had dropped over twenty inches of snow the night before and the city was ill prepared to deal with it. Most everything was closed but the restaurant at the Peninsula was still serving to its guests. Cabs were out of the question. It would take days before a meager army of municipal plows could clear the streets. The weather wasn't about to help either. The temperatures remained below freezing.
There was magic in the air when quiet covered the canyons of midtown. There were only a few brave souls sinking their Hunter boots into the snow-covered sidewalks stomping down a trail for those of us to follow. Some of the subways were running on limited schedules. I was lucky enough to find an F train that took me as far as Fiftieth Street. I could feel the silence as I climbed out the subway exit from below ground my boots trying to find their footing on the exit steps that had yet to be shoveled. I still had to walk the five blocks north to Fifty-fifth before I could turn east and get to the hotel. That crunch of untouched snow was the only sound singing in my ears. My eyes had been focused on my feet. The iced over sidewalks were treacherous requiring focused attention to keep me from falling. Then through the crunch of my boots and the whisper of the wind came an added element to the song of the storm. Walking down the middle of Sixth Avenue from the direction of Central Park came a woman dressed in a red parka a burlap bag over her shoulder. She was leading a reindeer down the middle of the avenue. She led the reindeer on a rope leash. As she got closer the crunch of my snow steps began to play melody blending with the cords coming from the ring of bells around the reindeer's neck. Magic.
THE BLIZZARD OF 2015
When I woke up at 6:30 Tuesday morning the TV still broadcasting storm news there wasn't a flake more I could see outside my window then had been there when I fell asleep. The ban on travel was still in effect and the parks were still closed. I squeezed into my jeans, but on my ultra-thin down vest, grabbed my quilted corduroy jacket and rubber boots, and walked out the door to the park. The same crunch of boots on virgin snow I had listened to nineteen years ago was back. It was a sweet illegal walk into the park and then down the middle of Central Park West before I turned around at Sixty-sixth and headed back home. For an hour or two the streets stayed empty until the rest of New York started waking up and joining in the freedom of walking in the middle of Avenues that would soon turn back into arteries packed with yellow cabs, Asian delivery boys on bicycles, and New Jersey drivers thinking it's legal to turn on right. I missed the magic.
Lee Melahn, photographer