Ever since they were tiny and we lived in the suburbs, we’ve been bringing our girls to the Marade. Like so many other extremes in Denver, this march/parade along the nation’s longest continuous stretch of urban roadway has provided us weather that has been more than accommodating for three little girls to trudge along. One day in January, it might be snowing, but on Marade day, it is usually Denver’s typically sunny, blue-sky beauty, sometimes nearing sixty, and we’d be shedding sweaters before even reaching Capitol Hill.
I can’t remember a year when my children were small, in the Bush or Obama presidencies, when we even had to bear more than a light coat to trek downtown, to enjoy a picnic lunch or a stop at Lik’s Ice Cream on the three-mile journey back up the hill to our car. It was so warm and cozy one year that all three girls piled into our double stroller and fell asleep.
But both this year and last year, while shouldered by weeks and weeks of arid sun, the MLK Marade has been touched by bitter temperatures and snow. This morning I spent twenty minutes cracking and scraping ice off my windshield, and my daughters and their friends huddled together like hibernating bears under the bus vestibule while we waited for the 40 to take us down the straight stream of never-ending traffic.
I can’t help but think this is not a coincidence, as tomorrow, naturally, the forecast calls for more sun, fifty degrees, and not a speck of snow. Last year it was the same. One day of bitter cold temps, one day for all the colors of our city to unite and walk together, under the shroud of clouds and threats of snow, before the sun came out again the next day.
The only difference is the presidency. The week 45 was to be inaugurated, and now, one solid and somber year later, his “shithole countries” comment still fresh on his racist tongue as we enter an era where any shred of respect for us in the world seems lost in a Twitter rant, a bigoted law, a tax snatch.
Fewer people than I’ve ever witnessed bore down against the icy streets this morning to march that march. Last year, droves us us, signs ready, couldn’t keep ourselves from holding them up in hope.
I fear how much we’ve wavered just one year into the bitter cold temps of this presidency. I fear the icy roads that we must navigate in the years ahead, for the people without heat, the children without hats, the commuters without cars, the immigrants without hope. I fear the extremity of weather bearing down on a winter with no snow in the mountains, mudslides and fires, bomb cyclones, record-breaking heat, everything wrapped up in morbid images and deathly discomforts.
I fear the bitter cold temps that take our breaths, our desires, our tenacity, our hopes, and, most of all, our freedoms away.
I fear images I see in my mind for a year from now, MLK Day, Marade Day, and empty, icy streets.
More than anything, I fear the bitter cold temps of the world we are setting forth for my children, for our children.
I know that we want to be under a blanket today, cat in lap, tea steaming, book open. I know that we can change the way we see the world through words we find in print.
And I know that we can keep from wavering. We can pile on layers, string up our snow boots, and face the bitter cold temps of this presidency.
We can walk in this Marade and remember that “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”
We can fight extreme temps, extreme politicians, and let every color of the world walk these city streets, hand in hand, sign upon sign, melting every last bit of bitterness away from the dead cold streets of fascism.
All it takes is that thought, that knowledge, that tomorrow the sun will shine, the temps will rise, and our blue-sky beauty will return us to our beloved home.