I drove home on the cusp of evening, through a slanting snow, down the Main Street of a town so small the road might as well have been named Only Street. The snow had begun earlier in the afternoon, in the manner of almost all first-of-season snows: Tentative, soft, unserious. But now it was something else, and the wind had picked up, too, and the snow swept and swirled across the pavement in complicated circular patterns. I feared that if I looked too hard, I would somehow become lost in them, so I fixed my gaze just above the roadway, guiding the truck not so much by the road itself, but by the features that delineated its edge: Houses. Trees. Utility poles.
I passed two children standing at the forward edge of a lawn covered by the detritus of rural poverty. Cars on blocks with hoods propped like open mouths. A four-wheeler. Something that looked like a canoe cut in half longways, but this must have been a trick of mind and weather. Through a curtained window, I could see the spectral glow of a television in an-otherwise darkened room. Smoke from a stove pipe.
The children were ecstatic. They were leaping and flailing their limbs, yelling into the squall. They didn’t just hold their faces to the storm; they actually pushed into it, mouths agape, the cold flakes tickling their tongues, the tender spot at the back of the throat. I waved, but their attention was elsewhere, and in a moment I had passed beyond their small orbit, the tires of the Ford cutting dark lines through the skin of snow. I turned the heater on high and rolled down the window just enough to let in a bit of the storm.