17 January

The Commissar Of Ice And Snow. (Or Here Comes The Snow Pussy)

by Jon Katz
The Commissar Of Ice And Sex (Er..Snow). With Fate and Ed Gulley’s Tin Man

One of the many curious ironies of my life is that I don’t like to be photographed, and almost never feel like a photograph of me is anything but ugly and disturbing.

I spend a good part of my life taking photos of other people – including many women – who overcome such self-loathing about their bodies, and if I am to have any respect for myself, I need to do it too. I don’t mind getting older, but I do mind photos of me getting older. A vanity that needs to be confronted.

Kelly Nolan has taught me to like myself, among other things.

I have been aided, of course, in my photo confidence by my sudden evolution into a new kind of fashion icon – an older man wearing colorful and interesting hats. it began with my slouch beanies, but also includes some interesting winter hats I have been accumulating or Maria has bought for me – like the odd flat-top with colored threads that so many people have admired.

On the farm I am known as the Commissar Of Ice And Snow, it falls to me in our household to keep an eye on the weather, make sure we have pet-gentle ice for salting, have snow brushes inside each of our cars, shovels by the back door, ice chopper next to them.

All of these mundane details are far below the radar of my artist wife, who would no sooner check the weather than let any piece of good go into the garbage – it all goes to the chickens or donkeys. She thinks preparing for storms is a foolish affection of mine, she likes to call me a “snow pussy.” I am not deterred, someone has to take responsibility.

Last night, as a snow and ice storm raged around us, Maria suggested going to the Bog for dinner. Are you kidding?, I said, it’s awful out there. “it’s just snow,” she said. “I’m hungry.” We went.

A typhoon or blizzard could be swirling over Maria’s head, and she would simply go about her business making her art, perhaps pausing to shovel a path to her studio. So what?, she says. We live in upstate New York, not Florida.

I am a snow, pussy, in fact, and take my storms seriously, I learned this in my first years on a farm, the first Bedlam Farm, where I would slip, slide, fall and freeze for days. I fell on the ice regularly, my dog Rose knew the drill, she would nip at my ears until I woke up and got up, and she had sharp teeth.

But at least I am looking sharp, several women have told me in  recent weeks that my new hats make me look handsome. I simply stammer and blush.

Maybe it comes from being older, I like to tell Maria I have a lifetime of wisdom and experience over her younger and less experienced self. Oh, to be young and careless, I intone. She thinks it s the funniest joke she’s ever heard.

While Maria heads out to the barn to feed the animals right away, I head out to cars to brush them off and get them ready to go. I shovel out the tires, clean off the Tin Man, clear off the back porch, scrape the snow off of the roof, warm up the cars, stoke the wood fires, make sure we have groceries for a couple of days, or can get to the hardware store if there is an emergency.

Today, I did pause to engage in my new habit, checking my hat and colors before setting out. A Commissar has to look the part. My slouch beanies are opening my eyes to the power of fashion.

I got out my funky flat-top because it stays dry longer than the wool caps (all that stuff on top soaks up moisture.) I thought my blue sweater might go well with the red hat, and I chose a gray/green scarf because I thought it might set off the other colors *I’m not sure about the scarf.)

After my mirror check – Maria was simply astonished – I set out and did our shoveling, feeding, brushing and scraping. By 10 a.m., I was ready to go to work. I checked the weather, 1 to 3 more inches, made sure Gus had his medicine, shoveled up some dog poop and got on the phone to find a new bird cage for the Mansion residents two parakeets.

The roads look good. The Commissar Of Snow And Ice was satisfied.

6 Comments

  1. Oh, John. Thanks for a great laugh! I continue to be with you and Maria every day for years so I can really appreciate this post. I sure did laugh, not just chuckle. Laugh! 😘

  2. “Snow pussy” – I’m going to be smiling and giggling all day over that phrase. Thanks, Jon, you brightened my Thursday!

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