It’s cold in Columbus this morning. It’s not really cold by absolute standards — at 32 degrees, it’s just at freezing, and a mere chilly precursor of the truly icy days that inevitably are coming this winter — but it’s an arctic blast by relative measurements, since only a few days ago the temperature was pleasantly in the 60s.
When I checked my weather app to see exactly what the temperature was, I noticed that it’s a heck of a lot warmer in San Antonio, where Richard and Julianne and their dog Pretty make their home. Down there in south central Texas it’s a fine 66 degrees right now, and I can imagine walking out into the San Antonio surroundings, clad in t-shirt and shorts, and thinking that 66 degrees is a nice cool start to the day — good for a stroll on the Riverwalk or, in Richard’s case, a jog. Up in Detroit, Russell’s waking up to 36 degrees and a forecast of snow flurries. And if you add in siblings and uncles and aunts, we’ve got Heidi out in Huntington Beach, California where it’s 54 degrees and the forecast is for partly cloudy skies and a high of 67, and Aunt Corinne and Uncle Mack down in Savannah, Georgia, where its 50 degrees and the week ahead on the weather app features temperatures around 70 and lots of those bright, unclouded sun icons that you always like to see.
So, right now, Columbus is the coldest place in the family, a solid 34 degrees more frigid than San Antonio. That’s why the weather app offers both the bitter and the sweet. It’s not great to be here at the coldest location, but one advantage of having a trusty weather app and a a family that is spread out from coast to coast and from north to south is we can live vicariously through whoever is getting the best weather right now. Later today, I think I’ll take an imaginary walk on Huntington Beach.
We’re down in San Antonio, arriving just in time for lunch. Richard said we had to go to the Burger Boy, a long time San Antonio institution, and when I asked one of the locals what to order he said I should opt for the Working Man combo — a double burger, crinkle-cut fries, and a tub of diet soda big enough to float a battleship — and to order it with “real” Kraft American cheese. I’m a working man, so of course I took his advice.
The double burger was succulent, the “real” American cheese nudged it into the spectacular category — so much so I was briefly tempted to wolf down another — and the crinkle-cuts were deep-fried to perfection. Fully sated, I exited the ’50s and headed back into modern America.
Last night after dinner we walked over to the plaza in front of the Cathedral of San Fernando, one of the oldest churches in the United States. A few times every night they project a light show against the facade of the cathedral that tells, in very broad strokes, the history of San Antonio.
It’s an interesting, memorable show, as new images slide up and down, faces appear and then vanish, and wavy lines move back and forth on the church and its two towers — but it’s disorienting, too. After a while you wonder if you’re dreaming, or if someone might have slipped a Mickey into your drink.
To get down to the San Antonio River Walk, you take stairways and ramps from bridges and overpasses. Many of the stairways and ramps are of the bland, concrete variety, but some are special — gracefully curved, with wide steps and overhead greenery and delicate tiled facings that reflect a southwestern flair.
It’s amazing how a few colorful squares of tile can turn a generic stairway into an eye-catching addition to an already festive area. If I had my say, every concrete municipal staircase would have bright tile facings with bold colors and geometric designs. It’s a way to inject some much-needed art into our everyday surroundings.
I’m not a huge proponent of organized religion, but I’m a sucker for churches.
The Little Church at La Villita, in San Antonio, is a gem. Built in 1879, its clean lines, stone walls, and modestly proportioned stained glass window create a setting of simple beauty. It’s well suited for quiet contemplation after a stroll on the River Walk — and it’s cool inside, too.