Although a native Californian, I spent a quarter century on the East Coast, from Massachusetts to Connecticut, then from New York to Pennsylvania, and I used to get a kick out of the wild weather there — storm squalls, lightning and thunder, blizzards, and even hurricanes — which I had never encountered growing up in the San Francisco Bay Area, a climate alternating mostly between mild sun and fog, with some occasional rain to keep Golden Gate Park green.
On the first day I arrived in Boston in 1974, I almost died during a big winter blizzard that had suddenly blown in, while I was parked right outside a health food store, having just landed a job there earlier in the afternoon. That day was to be the beginning of my career in the food business, but it was also nearly the end of it.
I was hanging around talking with the owner, until he left me with the keys, and said to lock up about 7 PM. I guess he trusted me, or else he had a hot date he was anxious to get to. In any case, I hadn’t noticed that it was starting to snow outside, so involved was I in examining the inventory and books and so forth.
When I finally returned to my ’66 Olds 88, the ignition just “up & died” at a most inopportune moment. The storm had already forced a traffic shutdown, there was nowhere to go (since all the other shops had closed up earlier), and I sat amazed in a thin windbreaker as the snow continued to build up over my side door window.
While musing on my unlikely predicament, and with thoughts of Jack London circling in my head, I suddenly saw some movement on the street through a part of the front window that was still clear. I forced my door open, and ran to the vehicle. It was the most beat-up jalopy I had ever seen and, as fate would have it, the occupants were on their way to the exact same Macrobiotic study house in Newton at which I was intending to stay before my car gave out.
The car was full of picked-up passengers already, so I just hung onto the side of the door as we made our torturous way about 10 miles to the residence. By the time I got there, and despite my training sitting in the snow for meditation, I was a pretty good version of one of those ice age hunters that they dig up every once in a while over in Switzerland.
I was carried in and placed near a huge roaring fireplace, and after about an hour or so of thawing out, I attempted to answer their initial question:
“Who are you?”
I’ve always found that to be an excellent question!