Tuesday, January 14, 2014


I woke up this morning and immediately checked my surroundings for any subtle, mysterious changes.


Same old urban cabin.

Same old Jon Spruce.

Crawling out of the warm blankets, I shivered over to the kitchen window.

Looked like the coast was clear and, although I wasn’t completely sure that the Code Blue had been lifted, it looked like it was safe to go outside again.

The polar vortex had passed.  Nothing had been shifted.  Nothing seemed to have moved around too much, nothing transferred or relocated to some other dimension, some other time.

For a vortex, this was a pretty weak one, by all accounts.

Everything the same.

That usually doesn’t happen after a good vortex.

Well then, it’s back to normal, back to school, back to the rat-race.

Lucky for me, it was a day-off but, day-off or not, I still had a long list to accomplish.

For starters, I needed a haircut.

I needed groceries too.

And I needed to return a gift.  Should I go for store credit or cash?

So, it was up and at ‘em, just enough time for one quick goat yogurt cup and one Gold Rush apple…then a quick freshening up in the bathroom…got to re-stock the toiletries too…then it was bundle up and boots on, grab the wallet and grab the keys and out the door.

That’s when I remembered…

…this was the most depressing trash day of the year.

You can’t let this kind of thing push your buttons.  Not today, Jon Spruce.  Too much to do.

Best advice?  Just walk right by and stick to the list…

…though that’s easier said than done.

You know, I was off to a good start.  It was still early morning and I was already…how do they say it?

That’s right.  I was making good time.

One little detour…to the other side of the city…right off the Roosevelt Boulevard…to this little hideaway spot that I know…

…just a quick pit-stop to watch the people clean up from their jolly holiday.

Hey, it is what it is.

That’s my new mantra when it comes to this kind of thing.

New year, new Jon Spruce and the new Jon Spruce isn’t going to get angry so easily. 

I’ll give the people their credit though.  If they were trying to fire up old Jon Spruce, they were on the right track, but not this time.

This time, this year?  I’m just going to stick to the schedule.

Not. Going. To. Get. Mad.

Hey, it worked.  I think I’m going to like 2014.

So it was back in the car, back on the road and, since I’m being such a good boy this year, I was going to treat myself to a new pair of sneakers.

Funny thing about shoe shopping?  I’m always looking for a new sneaker.

I never just replace the ones I have.  Even if I really like my old sneakers, I never go back and buy the same pair, don’t know why I do that.

On my way to the sneaker shop, I pulled over for another quick distraction, watching a tough group of weather-beaten men repair an elm tree.

Man, if I could do it all over again, this would be the job for me…

…high up in the urban canopy…

…just me and the tree, all the live-long day.

But things don’t always work out the way you want.  You got to be able to deal with that.  Sometimes, you don’t end up where you’re supposed to be.

Hey, it happens.

Like that poet from Vermont once said, there are two roads in a wooddiverging in the yellow wood…and then you go down one road and, when you look back, you can’t even remember where it was they diverged…way leads on to way…or something corny like that.

There’s a trick to not letting this kind of thing get you down.

It’s called moving on.  And that’s what I did, popping it back into first gear, back on the schedule, the busy busy schedule.

It wasn’t just me.  The whole city was busy.

That’s what happens after a deep freeze.

You can see it all around Philly, up and down the grid, just pouring out of every city block.

You see that steam?  That’s the good work of a company called Veolia Energy.

They’re the hardworking souls pulling the switches and managing the vast network of steam running just below the city’s surface…

…from the University to the Art Museum…

…thawing out the city from the bottom up.

Keep up the good work, boys.

Way to stay on schedule.

Speaking of which, it was almost the afternoon and there was still lots to do, still needed to return that gift, still needed to sit down for a hair-cut, still needed to find that new sneaker.

Right around the corner, I stumbled upon a CVS Pharmacy.  It isn’t hard to do here in the city.

I bit the bullet, put on my best grin and went inside.  Restocking the toiletries was on my list, I’ve done this chore a hundred times.

While I was in the CVS, I remembered another errand nagging my list.  Two weeks into the New Year and I still hadn’t bought a new calendar.

No time like the present.

Well, that must be nice.

Must be nice to have such beautiful nature right at your fingertips every day.

I shouldn’t be so hard on the calendar makers.  After all, they need to make a living and people do like to buy perfect photos of perfect scenery in the right season with the right light.

This is not something that should bother me.

So, no problem, it’s not going to bother me.

And, right across the aisle, I shouldn’t let myself get all worked up over the next big holiday.

Back in 2013, this kind of thing would really trigger a meltdown.  Not this time.  Not this year.

Hey, I’m as romantic as they come.  I believe in love.  For me, love comes in big, capital, goofy letters, glowing under a bright spotlight, and it doesn't matter if it's written in the skies or written on a greeting card or even written on the belly of a gigantic mass-produced teddy bear.

You just got to mean it when you say it.

Contrary to popular belief, I do think there’s a person out there for everybody although, sometimes I have to admit, I think mine got hit by a truck many, many moons ago.

Not going to let it get me down.

Can’t let that kind of thing take me off-course.

Can’t lose what you never had, that’s my motto.

Now where was that toothpaste?  And where was that razor blade?  I saw a razor blade commercial a couple weeks ago during the Wild Card game and I remember thinking, now that’s my kind of razor blade.

It’s got to be around here somewhere, maybe I should ask for help, or maybe I should just walk down every aisle, or I could just…hey, look at that…

…that’s funny.  I bet ice isn’t the biggest seller this time of year, eh?

Let’s see what we got here.

Arctic Glacier.  Man, that’s a great name for a bagged ice vendor.  The name alone sends shivers down my long johns.  These guys really know what they’re doing.  Who’s making this ice?

Oh.  Okay.  Ice is food!

I guess I never thought about it long enough to have an opinion on the subject, and I always did think of food as having some sort of connection to some sort of biological organism, at least something that can reproduce and respire, something that can eat as well, something that lives and, sad to say, dies.

But, sure, ice is food.  I’m a believer.  I shouldn’t just automatically reject a new idea.  That’s not what smart people do.

Ice is food, just as much as you and me.

Hey, this feels good.  New year, new idea.  Man, who are these guys?

Oh c’mon now.


Is it too much to ask for some local ice?

Is there no one in Philadelphia producing ice?