Life in the city

The coldest day so far this year: it got down to three degrees Fahrenheit last night in New Bedford. It was thirteen degrees when I went out for a walk this afternoon, with a twenty mile an hour wind. A Harbor Seal surfaced in the channel just below the swing-span bridge. Lots of ducks huddling together in the water on the lee side of Pope’s Island. The Buffleheads are usually wary and fly away before I get within a hundred yards of them, but today they just paddled out a few more feet and stayed there, keeping an eye on me. A Lark Sparrow, its feathers all fluffed up, let me come within six feet before it flew up into the shelter of a pitch pine. Bitter cold winter days are the best days to see animals in the city: with so few humans walking around, and no dogs, the birds and some of the mammals become quite tame.


This past week I’ve stayed at home, studying and writing, and I haven’t moved my car in all that time. I was going to get some groceries for lunch, so I went over to the Elm Street parking garage to get the car. I noticed broken glass on the pavement and then realized that the front passenger’s side window was smashed in. Whoever had done it had rifled through the glove box and the junk I kept in the bin under the cheap car radio; they took a portable CD that was broken, and left twenty dollars in quarters. Go figure.

The police were polite but bored when I called: “We’ll send a cruiser out. Where will you be?” “How long will it take?” I said, thinking to myself, It’s cold out, I’m not going to stand around waiting for the cops to show up.” “Um, why don’t you leave us a phone number… Or you could come in and make a report…” I said I’d come in to the station, knowing I wouldn’t bother. Instead, I called my insurance agent and got immediate and friendly service: “Call this number, it won’t cost you anything, no paperwork.” I called the glass company, and the window was fixed within hours.


At lunch time, my car was getting a new window, and Carol was busy writing her next book. “I’ll buy you a sandwich,” she said. That sounded like a good idea. We walked two blocks up to Cafe Arpeggio, where Carol got some kind of Portuguese soup, and I got a sandwich. Lunch hour was in full swing, and the cafe was packed: people coming in and slowly shedding coats and hats and gloves; people standing up to leave, wrapping themselves with scarves and sweaters and coats. It was a great way to get out of the house on a frigid winter day.

Then this evening, Carol walked across the street to the monthly “After Hours” social event at the Whaling Museum, with music by a local blues band. I decided not to go — I can no longer tolerate loud music due to tinnitus. But I stood in the window for a while and entertained myself by watching the people coming and going.

2 thoughts on “Life in the city

  1. kim

    When I go to concerts I always have earplugs with me in case it’s loud (Which it usually is
    these days.) They block out about half of the sound and leave enough to hear the music
    just fine. I don’t know if it would work for you, but you might try it. I use the foam
    earplugs, which come in different strengths.

  2. Administrator

    Kim — Problem is, the “After Hours” event is supposed to be a social event, where you can talk with people — my experience is that conventional foam earplugs tend to attenuate high frequencies more, reducing intelligibility of speech. Someday when I’m rich and famous, I’ll get a set of musicians earplugs which attentuate sound equally across a wide range of frequencies.

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