Sunday, December 7, 2008

A Chance Encounter with the Sounds of Urban Iceburg Calving

City's Snowplow Services Break the Still on a Cold Sunday Morning
by Alan Eggleston, writer and editor

It's 4:30 on a Sunday morning and not a soul is stirring in Grand Rapids. Non except this sleepy inhabitant of the Northeast Neighborhood and his whining puppy and all the snowplow services in town.

Dogged entrepreneurial-types with plows on their pickups are clearing up a day's worth of heavy, wet lake-effect snow. In the stillness of dead quiet air, you can hear the clang of the plow hitting cold cement, the rumble of it being dragged or pushed out to the street, and the beep...beep...beep of the automated signal warning that the vehicle is backing up. Like city iceburbs calving in a sea of urban ice, it comes at you from all around, first to the west, then the south, then west again, then the northwest, suddenly to the east. The air is clear, or you might also see the glow of yellow flashes from their warning lights like an urban borealis.

I wonder if it might not have sounded something like this the night the Titanic sank to the poor souls looking for signs of life, listening to iceburgs calving nearby. Alas, no wimpers of suffering souls nor choruses of "Nearer My God to Thee" this night, just the refrain of a dog insistent on going out at the unGodly hour of 4:30 in the morning.

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