So much of what I witness while I walk is ephemeral. Hoarfrost rimming a sign along the sidewalk – sublimating into the warming air minutes after I walk by. A family in a driveway arguing about Sunday school – voices falling under the noise of the street within a few steps. A shocking burst of color in a sunrise outside my front door- fading to pale blue by the time I walked just a few blocks. This glove, posing frozen on a fixture outside the local food co-op – disappearing before I exited the store minutes later.
But something about the shape of this object struck me and stayed with me – just as some sounds or combinations of colors do. And so, I was inspired to take a picture and now speculate how its brief stay on its perch might have gently impacted one family’s day.
“A claw,” Edward said, looking at the curled up glove in his hand and holding it out to show his parents. Edward’s puffy red coat flapped open in the breeze to expose a white button down shirt, a blue tie with a pattern of small brown crosses and khaki pants tucked into his navy blue snow boots.
“Edward,” Edward’s mother said with a gasp that hissed out through flattened lips, “Drop that! why do you insist on picking up every dirty thing from the ground?” She pulled a hand out of the pocket of her red wool coat to point at the ground.
“Go on in, mom,” Edward’s dad said from his spot between the boy and his mother, “We’ll catch up.” He put a hand on Edward’s stocking cap-clad head and steered him out of the traffic lane toward the front door of the Co-op. Edward continued to look at the glove.
Edward’s mother leaned forward to look around Edward’s dad at Edward. She then looked up at the older man, flattened her mouth and sighed again this time through flaring nostrils. Edward’s father smiled back at her. She turned to enter the store. “We will not be late for Sunday School,” she said over her shoulder as she pulled the door open.
“What should we do with it?” Edward’s dad said.
“Why is it curled up?” Edward said.
“Well, let’s think about that. It’s cold, right?” Edward nodded. “Below 32 degrees?” Edward’s face crinkled up and then he reached down to the zipper pull on his coat. He looked at the small thermometer that hung there, looked back up at his dad and nodded. “It was probably wrapped around something when you picked it up?” Edward nodded and pointed to the the base of a light post. “Could it have been wet?” Edward’s dad pointed down to the ice rimmed puddle just off the curb they stood on. Edward looked at the puddle and back at his dad. His brow was slightly furrowed. “So, why is it curled up?”
“Frozen,” Edward said. Edward’s dad smiled and gave him a shrug and smile that Edward recognized as “probably so.”
“Drop it?” the boy said.
“Well, we could…” Edward’s dad said.
Edward looked up, recognizing the gentle challenge at the end of his dad’s statement. He said, “Maybe someone will be looking for it?”
Edward saw his dad smile. Then Edward looked around for a moment. He pointed to the top of the recycling box near the front of the store. Edward’s dad nodded and picked the boy up. Edward set the glove down on selected perch. It rocked like a slightly off balance rocking horse. They watched it slow and almost stop. Edward’s dad tapped one of the black rubberized fingers and set it teetering again. Again it slowed, stopped and this time Edward tapped the finger and put it in motion.
They both heard the door to the Co-op open and then heard, “You two! What on earth?” The glove settled to rest as they turned to her.
“Just waiting for you, mom!” Edward’s dad said. She strode past them and Edward’s dad set the boy on his feet on the concrete. In her wake, Edward and his dad stepped into the parking lot with Edward leading his dad by the hand. After a few steps the man and the boy had veered off slightly east while Edward’s mother had veered slightly west.
By the time she reached the car in the northwest corner of the lot, Edward, had led his dad almost to the sidewalk on the east side of the lot. Edward’s dad yelled over his shoulder, “We’re apparently walking. We’ll meet you there!”
Edward’s mother turned and looked around the car. She then extended her gaze and saw Edward’s dad waving from across the parking lot. “You two,” she said not loud enough for them to hear as they reached the crosswalk on Fifth Street. She looked at her phone then back up toward the pair now in the crosswalk. “As long as they don’t find something to investigate along the way.” She turned back and opened the car door.
As Edward’s mother was turning the key in the ignition, Edward and Edward’s dad were facing the three lanes of Washington Street. Edward was watching a tall, skinny man striding through the crosswalk toward them. “You didn’t look both ways!” Edward said as the man stepped up onto the sidewalk next to him. The man caught Edward’s dad’s eyes and chuckled genially. He pivoted into the Fifth Street crosswalk.
Edward’s dad said, “remember, this is a one way street. Also, he’s twice as tall as you so he can see the road from further away and the cars can see him too.” Edward looked over his shoulder at the man, who had just stepped onto the sidewalk at the edge of the co-op parking lot. Edward nodded and turned slightly to look at the white tractor-trailer stopped on Washington Street. His head twitched to the left, but didn’t fully turn. His right foot lifted off the curb.
Edward didn’t notice the following brief sequence that began just as his right foot landed in the crosswalk:
- Edward’s dad hovers his hand over Edward’s head and catches the eye of the truck driver.
- The truck driver looks to his right, into his side mirror.
- The truck driver turns back to Edward’s dad and nods.
- Edward’s dad nods back and drops his hand back to his side.
As Edward and his dad stepped up onto the curb on the east side of Washington Street, the truck was accelerating behind them, the lanky man was pointing his phone at the glove atop the recycling box near the co-op entrance and a woman wearing a co-op ID tag was watching him from the window to the left of the door. Edward and his dad turned toward Third Street. The lanky man entered the store. And moment later, the woman with the Co-op ID tag came out of the store, picked up the glove, flattened it with some effort and stuffed it into the back-right pocket of her jeans, next to its mate.