Right now, the New York City streets and landscape are defined by the aftermath of the recent snowstorm. Invariably, talk of snowstorms here will include the dreaded melting and slush, analogous to the Mud Season of northern New England. So, it is befitting to end this week of snow related postings with the last phase of a snow accumulation now underway with the "blessing" of warmer temperatures.
At intersections across the city, pedestrians confront slush puddles, often large and deep enough to approach lake size and be quite daunting - it is common to see people standing in contemplation, paralyzed with indecision. There is jumping, pond skipping, circumnavigation while trying to locate firmer ground or even abandoning a particular intersection and trying another. For those attired in tall rubber boots, there is just walking through without concern.
However, extensive walking is the norm here and sidewalks are largely navigable without waterproof shoes, so for many, lugging a pair of shoes to change into or the prospect of wearing boots all day at the office are all unappealing. So, many tread the streets with footwear that really is inadequate for a world of slush.
As the slush to snow ratio becomes larger towards the end of a big melt, there is also the danger of heavy splashing as vehicles careen through slush. An unpleasant surprise, now you can enjoy the day looking like a mutant dalmatian. The seasoned native practices scanning and defensive walking and has learned long ago that there is no such thing as walking too far from the curb.
For someone living in New York City, there is a building and adopting of many defensive strategies, whether it is where to keep your wallet, chaining bicycles, protecting against auto vandalism (see No Radio), window glass etching (see here) or how to navigate on slush days. To the native, these become second nature, automatic reflexes. To the visitor or outsider, this panoply of life strategies is unfathomable and to many new residents, the aggregate number of inconveniences can be too much to endure - see my story Dwanna here.
Even for the seasoned New Yorker, there is certainly a level of internalized stress that is often not recognized until one leaves, temporarily or permanently. A close friend who moved from the city described this period of readjustment as decompression.
For those committed to being here, Happy New Year and join the Slush Fun :)