'Twas The Day After Christmas, Brrrrrr!by James Byous on 12/27/10
'Twas the Day after Christmas,
And all through the town,
Not a local was stirring,
'Twas too cold to get 'round...
Except for the tourists, they are sticking it out... skin, that is. Thicker blood I suppose. This is Speedo weather in
Outside temp gauge on the van rearview mirror reads 37 degrees. Methinks it's optimistic. I know that it can't take in wind chill. If it did the rearview digital display would flash, "Bare butt cold! Stay in car!" Once outside the air stings my flesh. Old song lyrics play in my head, "Jack Frost nipping at my nose," and, I add, ears and hands... and a few other body part not ready for prime time. Adjust scarf, snug on tam and zip-up jacket. Layers against the weather. Admiral Byrd would have scoffed, "It's time for an enduring spirit, time for courage. Trudge on my boy!" I would rebuff, "Admiral, Sir, I'm freezin' my... Yes Sir." One does not argue with an admiral, expecially a dead one. Anyway, my arms won't go all the way down. I feel like Randy in A Christmas Story.
Down the bluff by the Cotton Exchange Tavern two homeless, street-vendors are hunkered between news boxes and below wind-blocking awnings. Noses and eyes are all that bare from between the crinkled, lace-tightened hoodies on their worn, matted parkas. They offer woven-palm-leaf roses to passersby - Southern roses to northerners, Secession or Confederate roses to those from the South who know the real name. No takers. It's too cold to pull one's hands from belly-warmed jacket pockets, count out three dollars and refold the balance.
A frosty Self-portrait in a window of the Cotton Exchange Restaurant.
Business is slow, the two men tell me, but, "Things look good between now and New Years." Optimists they are. Their tactics shift with the market and they walk a few feet down the street to the corner where the siren smell of hot crab chowder and coffee sucks foot traffic into the front door of the Exchange. Me too. I follow the line inside the building that was once one of the "King's Stores" before the American Revolution.
Stepping in to the warmth I'm greeted by server Harold Moye. I can't tell him I'm non-paying and here to thaw. So I ask questions. He's friendly, as is always the experience here. Moye says business is doing well despite the cold. He has a secret weapon - note the afore-mentioned chowder. Seems warm food cuts the cold with it's sit-at-your - table-and-watch-others-shiver kind of embrace. The tables and booths afford great views of others as they explore cobblestones and shops along the water-lined and water-chilled lane.
Visitors brave the cold to visit Savannah's historic River Street.
Down the street people have their arms filled with packages and bags. Seems they are bearing the cold for a look at things, and might I say - buying. I duck in to Gallery 209 to warm again. Artist Mary Ingalls mans the anteroom from behind a redoubt of glass-enveloped jewelry and crafts. She would disagree somewhat on sales volume. The cold has caused business to slow for the artist who shares a section of the historic warehouse. She is seeing some repeat business over the past days, but the snow flurries today has a deflecting effect on large wrapped art pieces.
Ingalls works in stained glass. One of her pieces hangs in the window of the gallery. It's made from an old wood-frame window sash. Her glass work forms an abstract scene not unlike a bubble-laden, sub-surface scene. Ingalls is a west-coast transplant as am I. Many artist, photographers come to the city to show their work. Some come to study. Many stay.
I grab a few more photos of sightseers and shoppers braving the brisk breeze. I am neither - not shopper nor sightseer. So, the business prognosis for the day - it's the best of times, it's the worst of times. But in my opinion, it's going home time. See y'all on another day. It's cold.
Mary Ingalls' glasswork highlights the window in Gallery 209.
Cold or no cold. Families brave the weather on River Street, Savannah.