Some tiny creature, mad with wrath,

Is coming nearer on the path.

--Edward Gorey

Location: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, U.S. Outlying Islands

Writer, lawyer, cyclist, rock climber, wanderer of dark residential streets, friend.

Friday, May 19, 2006

A City Besieged

Grousing about the weather is a Pittsburgh pastime of unquestionable pedigree and endurance. Among outdoor athletes, the grousing reaches crescendi in spring and fall, when the sky grows dark and ominous with the prospect of rain, and the sun finds summer at or below the equator leaving us all pining for its grace with the faith of the devout; and on the tenth or eleventh consecutive day without sun, like a lapsed Catholic, our faith falters, and we shake our fists at the sky, bereft, betrayed.

Notwithstanding our uncommonly dry Spring, the delayed arrival of weather more typical of this time of year has provoked the usual hue and cry, our yearly ritual. Brian's in on it. So is David, just days after noting how odd it was that the rains belayed their arrival. And I'm hardly innocent.

This morning, nether regions impossibly sore from 50-ish unpadded miles in the past two days on Susan's miserable saddle, I skipped riding in, especially in light of what should be a long-distance sort of weekend. I figured that if it was vaguely painful just to walk to the shower, naked under my robe, getting back on the bike once again would be intolerable.

Instead I drove, having an after-work commitment making bus commuting impractical. Still half-asleep from the somnolent creep down Butler, I had my breath stolen from me when I turned onto Ligonier and paused at the red light where it met Liberty. Before me lay the narrow strip of Liberty arrowing into the heart of downtown, and at its end stood the monolithic USX and Mellon towers, dwarfing at their feet the cornice of the granite facade of the Pennsylvanian, its lower stories eclipsed by a train trestle in the foreground.

All paled beneath the sky, which was bruised and inflamed with the insistent vibrancy of spring, and lurching toward the city from below, the vividly green flora of Polish Hill, within which hides the narrow, begrudging easement of Bigelow Boulevard. The sky and the hillside formed discordant jaws threatening to devous all the iron and concrete of this city, the water of the rivers perhaps rising up to facilitate in- and digestion. The city, in a word, looked small.

The wind hurtled about my car, the clouds about to reach down and pluck me from the roadway, and all I could think was: I wish I were on my bike.

I can take or leave the rain, in itself, but I love this weather, its profundity, its urgency, its life-giving ablutions, and I love living in a city so green, with hillsides to look upon, waterways to stand beside, backroads down which to disappear.

Missing the sun when it goes is a biological thing, and like anyone when it goes for long spaces of time my spirits plunge and I find myself aching for something I cannot name. But I wouldn't trade those struggles at the expense of this, the heavy gray sky I see out my window, offset with the blues and greens and reds of the city and the suburb, the bright yellow of the right field foul pole at PNC park, the gleaming dome of a distant church, a sliver of brilliant green marking the trees between the Gateway towers, and the gray, always the gray, the gray that is white and blue and purple and even a little green, the gray ever-changing, bringing with it all the joy and petulance of resurrection.

Truly, I do not mind the weather in this city.

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Blogger David said...

i was also cursing myself for not riding. today was a very british day, weather wise. I also love this weather, frustating tho it is.

2:57 PM  
Blogger rockicemtn said...

Good thing I am not british I suppose, I do not like this weather at all. It will put me in a funk as quickly as work. Not sure why, I have grown up in the east and should be immune to it by now. At this point, I yearn for my grass to be burnt and brown. Will it ever end?

9:12 PM  

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