Crunching through the deep snow, I hear as the only sound in this unnaturally quiet town, a shrill alarm wailing nonstop. Though this would annoy me any other time, today it seems strangely appropriate.
Arriving first at Weaver Street Market, a shaggy dog and I are stuck in a faceoff near the picnic tables. The fresh footpath we share is only wide enough to allow single passage. Though I am certainly not going to move for a mere dog, this pup doesn't want to move for a mere human, either. His panting smile and wagging tail seem to argue that since he's up to his head and I'm only up to my knees, I should do the gracious thing and step aside. But my dignity as a biped could never weather such an insult. We compromise by both going around.
A red-faced man shuffles along the icy shoulder near Armadillo Grill. "Ya comin' from Teeter?" he asks, with a thick drawl.
"Yeah," I reply. "It's closed. But Weaver's open."
"Didn't think so," he wheezes uninterestedly and shuffles on.
I am startled to see a lone jogger carefully navigating the center of Main Street. He's having a hard time of it, as his sneakers gain almost no purchase on the packed ice. Still, his expression, one of determination bordering on fearful concern, augurs that his daily routine will not be shattered.
Walking to Franklin Street, I see this sign on the door of Kinko's: "Closed due to inclement weather." Though helpful, purists might fault it for being needlessly verbose.
I come finally and a bit disappointedly to a very closed Caffe Trio. Across the road, half of Silent Sam is very neatly covered by wet, wind-blown snow. From a distance, it makes him look half-black and half-white.
I hear another SUV in groaning battle with a snowdrift on the corner of Henderson. Finally coming to a stop before the cafe, the driver lets out a man in a blue windbreaker. He shuffles toward the News & Observer box near the bus stop. Though the hinged vending window has been thoroughly frosted by a full night of snow, the man nevertheless finds it necessary to stoop and verify the date on the paper.
Turning back in defeat, he notices me watching him. "Didn't think so," he explains nonchalantly.