There’s a part of me that really loves sitting in airports. Not the stress of just-at-the-weight-limit baggage, or the endless security lines (or security mob, if you’re at Fiumicino), or the person in front of you who doesn’t seem to understand that yes, that industrial-sized bottle of hair gel is, in fact, considered a liquid. What I love is the time between the security gate and my seat. Those couple of hours when you can walk around and observe, without speaking to anyone. You’re free to–even justified in–eating that giant Cinnabon and reading your book, and no one can interrupt you. (Can you tell that I do most of my traveling alone?) All around you people are rushing, talking, making connections, leaving loved ones, experiencing relief and anxiety and everything else imaginable, and for me, it’s calming. To me, the sounds of an airport are just background noise, signifying nothing.

It’s almost like Prague in the snow.

Prague is not a noisy city to begin with. There isn’t really traffic to speak of, the metro is underground, it doesn’t have an outdoor marketplace. But when it snows here, as it has been for the past week, the few sounds that you do hear are muffled. People’s footsteps, often loud on the cobblestones, are muted. Most of the cars are snowed in and untouched. And in the park at night, people walk hand-in-hand but do not speak as the snow falls heavy and silent, adding inch upon inch to the unshoveled paths.

During the day, the park is full of dogs romping through snow that comes almost up to their bellies, and children dragging old-fashioned wooden sleds up the gentle hills, waddling under layers and layers of winter clothing. People leave their houses despite the cold to take advantage of the deepest snow that Prague has seen in nearly twenty years.

Moving on toward the eventual destination of spring, which I look forward to, remembering the days when darkness fell well after nine o’clock, I’m nevertheless perfectly content to watch people stomping, plodding, running and whatever else through the snow, knowing that it’s only an interlude between other things.

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