We had freezing fog last night. The light of morning illuminated a new, magical world built of icy feathers of radiant white. The new world was fragile. The merest touch of a finger changed spiky blades into frosty fragments and a sad, incriminating teardrop quivering on the skin.

I wandered to the office in a distracted cloud dance, head tilted back to take in the grandeur. Each patient black tree, resigned to wait for spring, had been pranked in the night. The sprites of winter had flitted by in secret, their crystalline voices tinkling merrily. With cheeky grins they capped each tree with a corona of splendor, and not a twig was forgotten.

Then a millennial almost ran me off the sidewalk. It was his fault, not mine. I was hyperaware, singing. I felt the nip of cold on my nose and tasted the crisp air. I savored the eerie near-silence of the frosted morning. I had seen him coming for two blocks. But that mysterious negotiation that happens as two pedestrians approach to about thirty feet, where feet decide to veer left or to veer right in a well-oiled efficient pact of mutual kindness, did not occur. The cheery “good morning” died on my lips as I was forced to dodge him.

You already know why. The twerp had his nose buried in his cell phone. I could have been Marilyn Monroe dressed (only) in jingle bells and he still wouldn’t have seen me. What had his attention? Was it a cat video? Insufficient likes on his facebook post?

I admit with chagrin that I rather wished I could slap him awake and force him to appreciate the magic of the hoarfrost universe, but that’s not how it works. Assault is not an acceptable method of consciousness-raising.

So I walked on. After a few rolls of the eyes, I was back in the happy now. I paused to play with some frost on a chain link fence, but I ended up at the office. And I sat down to work. After grading some papers, I looked up and wondered. Was there a difference between grading papers and cell phone addiction? In either case, the hoarfrost was consigned to oblivion; expelled from consciousness and memory. There is at least one difference. Nobody is addicted to grading papers. I’d prefer a walk through hoarfrost, for sure.

There are times I dive into writing projects or research projects or play some bass, and time flies in a happy blur. A fleeting moment, ephemeral as hoarfrost.

As is life.

My conclusion is this: Enjoy the hoarfrost. It won’t be there tomorrow.

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