New York City: A cab ride on a silent, soulful winter night

It's really just a wisp of a memory, but after 20-some years, I can still recall the beauty of that winter night in New York. I was in town on business and had gone to see a play with an old friend. Afterward, we headed to her apartment somewhere in the West 70s, where I sat and watched her make pies for Thanksgiving dinner the next day. We talked for hours, catching up on the details of our lives.

We finally said our goodbyes, and I walked down the steps of her brownstone into the first snowstorm of the season. At that early-morning hour and with the wretched weather, I knew snagging a cab was a long shot. Then one of those "Manhattan miracles" occurred — a yellow Checker rounded her corner, the glowing light on its roof signifying it was empty.

I hopped in and we took off for my hotel, the cabbie driving slowly through Central Park as the snow fell. Just north of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, he made a careful right turn onto Fifth Avenue. It was empty — not a car or bus or cab to be seen — and covered with fresh snow unmarked by any tire tracks.

Out the cab window, I could see the broad steps of the Met, also cloaked in white. There were no pedestrians — odd for New York even at that hour — it was just me, the driver and the big yellow cab. We seemed to glide — almost float, really — down the deserted boulevard.

I will never forget the beauty of that night as the flakes gently fell. It was so dark, so empty and so still, the only sounds the click-clicking of the cab's windshield wipers and the soft crunch of tires on the snow.

— Anne Harnagel

Harnagel is an editor in the Travel section of the Los Angeles Times.

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