One snowy day last week, I planned a rendezvous with my friends: 4 o’clock on the bridge. We wanted to go for a long walk through the snow-covered landscape, feel the cold air on our faces, linger under the heavy gray sky. I liked the sound of it: “Meet me at four o’clock on the bridge.” There is poetry in a meeting like that, and a sense of adventure. You walk out your front door, wrapped tightly in scarf and coat, and stumble down the snowy path, climbing banks and slipping on ice patches all the way. You walk there with your own two feet.

This is so much better than jumping in your car and driving through traffic to meet your friends at, say, the mall.

Heather, Kim and I reached the bridge, hugging the side of the road while snow plows and trucks whizzed by. We spotted Sandra and Joshua on the other side of the bridge, quite a striking pair: Sandra with her orange coat and pregnant belly and Joshua arrayed in a full-body camouflage suit. Meeting in the middle, we all turned to survey the scene from our vantage point high on the bridge.

The prospect before us looked like a black and white photograph. The hills rolled gracefully in flawless white. Trees rose starkly against the snow, brown-black and feathery. The sky above stretched endlessly beyond, filled with gray, ominous clouds.

Normally, when you walk outside you are greeted by a dizzying array of colors. Colors mixed up and juxtaposed wildly. The colors stimulate your mind. You hardly know where to look, or what to focus on first. When it snows, your eyes rest. You drink in the purity of the white snow. You gaze at the lovely black on white scene, and you feel peaceful. Pure, unadulterated color. Or, one might say, the lack of it.

Moments later, our friend Ben appeared wearing a bright green hat. Last of all, Phil and Rebecca arrived. The crew had assembled. Joshua proposed a photography competition. We all would be on the look out for the perfect shot. Later, we would vote on who took the best one. So we all hunted for the best shots. We haven’t voted yet. Will the winner be the picture of the gravestone covered in snow? Or the mud icicles? Or the orange sunset glowing on the snow?

We walked through Wasena park, by the railroad tracks and the skateboard park. We ambled, pausing every few steps to throw snowballs or examine a dead frozen squirrel buried under the snow or throw a few cartwheels. We felt free.

The path led us under an overpass. Next to the path, the river flowed by, dark and quiet. I walked over to the edge of the water and stood still to listen. Over my head, cars rushed by … whoosh. Tires hit bumps in the road with accented clicking sounds. Down below, the water flowed and whispered. As the bridge amplified these voices, they echoed all around me: the clatter and swish of the cars and the whisper and drift of the river. I closed my eyes. It was a symphony.

We continued down the path. Sunset blazed orange and pink at the horizon. The snow turned blue, then gray. We walked slowly home, nourished by exercise, beauty, and friendship.

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