Mixed Precip

     Slush is falling from the sky. It’s been falling for weeks.
     I’m paying a guy to stick pins in me and scrape me with a jar cap.
     Everything is gray.
     Not that I am complaining.
     Spring is coming to Vermont.
     Isn’t it?
     The weathermen call it “mixed precip.”
     Homicide detectives use bland phrases like that.
     187 (homicide).
     207 (kidnapping).
     217 (assault with intent to murder).
     Vermonters call it Mud Season.
     Mixed precip, my foot. Slush is falling through a gray world. To go outside is to walk into a ball of frozen gray cotton.
     But hey, it’s not 30 below zero. Any day now crocuses will push their heads through the snow. The icy hand of winter will melt and release us into paradise.
     It happens every year.
     Every week when I go to the acupuncturist I tell myself it will be the last time.
     It’s not working, I say. It’ll never work.
     Yet it seems to be working.
     Before he pokes me with pins, the acupuncturist slathers ointment on me and scrapes it off with a jar cap. It’s called gua sha, and it’s supposed to hurt. A bit. It does. A bit.
     My doctors recommended it. Cortisone won’t fix it, they said. It will only disguise the symptoms. Try acupuncture.
     I’m not a New Age sort of guy. I’m more the city editor type.
     “Your mother says she loves you? Check it out. I want two sources, not including your mother.”
     Maybe it’s a coincidence that the pain is fading as winter goes away, and the days grow longer.
     Maybe the acupuncturist is right, that the pain comes from stagnant energy that has to be released – if need be, by sticking me with pins.
     How should I know?
     Tuesday was town meeting day in Vermont. An hour’s drive to the north, in Cavendish, (pop. 1,400) they voted to turn an old stone church into a little museum to honor Alexander Solzhenitsyn, who lived in the town during his 17 years of exile from the Soviet Union.
     Solzhenitsyn liked Cavendish, whose citizens he addressed at Town Meeting when he arrived, and again when he left.
     His fellow citizens refused to tell visitors where he lived, a favor they continue for his son Ignaz, a concert pianist who remains there.
     “I like the climate, with the long winter and the snow, which reminds me of Russia,” Solzhenitsyn told his neighbors at Town Meeting.
     That will give you some idea of winter in Vermont. It’s the kind of thing that will cheer up Solzhenitsyn.
     I guess I’m just not the kind of guy who longs for Siberia.

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