A BIT OF MY DAY THAT MAKES THE WINTER OKAY

FOR TWO WEEKS I’VE BEEN WALKING a particular path at a particular time of day that is, in my mind, too early to be about in winter. Yet there’s one corner of my route that, in its mundane way, gives me a strange sense of pleasure. There’s a hum about the space there, brought into being through the joint efforts of the senses and the imagination of one hoping to imbue the ordinary with the romantic. Sounds are central: the constant deep purr of the traffic that gathers in frustration at the tapering of Flemington Road to Grattan Street; the intermittent whirs and cracks of the construction site that, if you listen but don’t look too closely, echo the never-on-pause progress of New York. Then there is the sense of scent that brings the bitter warmth of the cigarettes smoked religiously by the pyjama-clad patients who emerge from the hospital, hooked-up and bound to the entryways, into the cold morning. It’s a concentration of tobacco that you’ll encounter little in this city, where the haunts of the smoker are less and less. The olfactory mingling of the smoke with the faint trace of cheaply baked danishes, hospital-grade coffee, and the chilled air of the a.m. allows the walker to almost transport themselves—again, with a little less looking—to the streets of the great metropolises of the imagination: London, Paris. The moment makes the morning pass a little more warmly, in spirit if not celsius.

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