The Big Inning

"We are not rich by what we possess but rather by what we can do without." ~ Immanuel Kant

A thud sounded at the back door. Crossing the carpeted entryway, I yarded open a heavy metal storm door, and peered out into all-encompassing blackness. A blast of January air smacked my T-shirted torso like a Polar Express freight train loaded with ice blocks.

"Hello?" I called out.

The greeting vanished, snatched from my windpipe into a maelstrom of whirling snow pellets. A lump of whiteness, unobtrusively blown against the doorsill, rose, pushed past me, and staggered four steps inside before collapsing.

"What do we have here?" I grimaced, recognizing a scrap of multi-coloured scarf peeking forth from beneath a corner of the white mound. Having struggled three blocks from the nearest bus stop through a paralyzing whiteout, my wife appeared more akin to an abominable snowman than I dared mention.

"Yeti!" I exulted, throwing caution to the wind. "Welcome home!" No response. "Ah, life on the edge of the frozen prairie," I muttered, slamming the door.

"Frosty the Snowman?" I guessed.


"Icicles for sale?"

The slumped figure stared at me through ice-rimmed eyes, casting tiny daggers my way.

"Why did the snowman have a grin on his face?" Cold silence met my question. "He heard the snowblower was coming." Did I detect a faint smile from the snowdrift?

"Hoo boy," I said, surveying the mostly motionless heap of melting snow. "Lucky I have a car." Another unblinking glacial glare from behind frozen lashes telegraphed I was not endearing myself to her.

"Guess what?" I intoned, ignoring the wise adage: When one is in a hole, the first thing to do is stop digging. "We received a wonderful letter from the Sidewalk Police today. They're threatening to fine us severely if the snow's not removed from our sidewalk within 48 hours. I phoned and informed a Gestapo that I had already swept the sidewalk ... should I vacuum it too?"

Sharon rolled her eyes. "You know," she said, finally thawed enough to move her lips, "maybe the rat race isn't all it's cracked up to be ... after all, even if you win, you're still a rat."

I twisted my lips, nodding, and concluded that frozen brains were short on insight. "Maybe," she continued, "we should do something while we're both still young and healthy."

"Like what?"

"I don't know ..." Her voice trailed off. She summoned strength and picked herself off the floor. Struggling, she removed her sodden woolen overcoat, and draped its dripping bulk on a peg over the boot tray. "How about cycling around the world?" she asked. "Now's our chance. No kids. No mortgage."

"Hmmm," I heard myself reply. "Sounds good." Warm tropical breezes sashaying amongst palm fronds already danced through my mind like pernicious nymphs. "Anything has to be better than this," I murmured, gazing out at a frozen white world and envisioning turquoise as a perfectly delightful colour for water. "Will there be hills?"

"Of course not," came the sweet reply.

Partners in Grime

The Lead Goat Veered Off

by Neil Anderson

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