This morning

That first step into the bitter morning air stings that much harder upon the re-realization of your actual destination. Wherever you were going in the dream, you aren’t, says the sharpness in your nose, throat, and lungs. You would never dream a place this cold.

The garage light is burned out—no time for even that—so I started the car and turned on the headlights to search for the ice melter. I poured some from the oily plastic bag into the old, rusty coffee can, managing to spill less than half of it on the floor, chalking that up as today’s first victory. There must have been some water in the can. As I carry it to the front of the house, I sense it’s even colder than the rest of this morning. Half asleep, partly frozen, as yet uncaffeinated, I try to remember my high school facts. Is this solution an endothermic or exothermic reaction? And doesn’t that work contrary to the melting action? How does that work again, exactly? Something about ions moving. Chemistry was a long time ago.

I get to the porch and shake the can, spreading its contents on the steps, every dot. I stop for a minute before taking the can back. Over the sound of the idling car I hear crackling and popping: the ice’s response to this chemical intruder is suicidal violence. I pause to appreciate that for just a moment.

In the corner of my eye, motion. I watch the coyote running as fast as he can in the middle of the street, westbound down Greenfield, towards the forest and the river within.