When my parents, sister and I lived in Washington DC around 1957 our maid Dinah gave me a snow globe for Christmas one year. It was at a time when I enthused about tropical fish. I had at least two aquariums (one large, one small) in which I cultivated a community of fish in the large tank and bred fish (mostly Guppies) in the small tank. The snow globe which Dina gave me had what appeared to be floating gold fish each moored by a thread to the bottom; and naturally when I shook the globe it caused a storm of snow-like particles to erupt about the entirety.
Immediately after celebrating Christmas at home our family travelled to Florida for a vacation. I took my new snow globe with me. It was very dear to me. We rented a small cottage perched on high land overlooking the ocean. I recall vividly two incidents in particular. When my mother attempted to determine how the gas oven functioned she succeeded to explode a cloud of gas in the oven while looking immediately towards the open oven door. She had a rim of sizzled grey hair above her forehead as evidence of her encounter.
The other incident I recall arose after I had collected from the ocean a small fish in a bucket. I transported the fish to a glass jar so I could see it. I kept the fish in the jar at the cottage and probably fed it bread crumbs. Eventually I decided it was best to release the fish to the ocean. The pathway to the sea from the cottage was moderately precipitous. There was a winding cement stairwell leading from the clifftop to the beach. Half-way down, where the stairwell curved, there was a small platform. It was there on the platform that I stumbled and dropped the jar with the fish in it. I was horrified. I can’t now recollect whether I was able to recover the fish to put it into the sea. I imagine instead I was preoccupied with the broken glass and how to handle the dilemma. I believe I knew enough to get a broom.
Meanwhile at the cottage I still had my snow globe with the floating orange-coloured goldfish (I think there were two) to amuse me and fulfill my ambition (however that might be characterized, a mixture of organic, artistic and aquatic). The tragedy arose upon our return to Washington DC. The moment we entered the garage at our home, Dinah stood at the door awaiting our arrival. I immediately opened the car down and removed myself from the car with my snow globe in hand. Then I dropped it onto the cement garage floor. Needless to say it smashed into a thousand pieces. And right before the eyes of Dinah who I knew had extended her generosity to have given me the gift in the first place. Clearly I have never completely recovered from the event.
So today as I confine myself to my desk during the current snow storm I once again embellish my experience by wistfully regarding the clouds of snow particles descending upon the distant fields and disappearing into the river which unexpectedly seems to have softened and unfrozen (the ambient temperature hovers around 0°C). The weather today is another of the Hallmark card genre. The fresh snow which lightly and incessantly falls from the uniformly grey dome above forms an undisturbed and powdery robe of whiteness upon everything below.
I have resolved to preserve my entire occupation indoors today. This for me is no trite accommodation. I am addicted to the Art of Driving (something I have just now coined as illustrative of this species of mechanical indolence). This means that driving on blemished roadways is a contamination. Salt in particular offends my artistic sensibility. Snow, while tolerable, normally entails a degree of obstruction and therefore caution. In the result, being as I am lately unfamiliar with winter weather, I thought it wisest to remain apart from the confrontation; and to distinguish instead the poetic summary by speaking from afar. Objectivity is I find strengthened by a degree of abstraction.