The little crinkle-flashes you see along the sidewalk are literally heat waves. There’s a set of vents about seven feet up the wall on the side of our Campus Center building that exhausts (exhales? like the building is alive and cares for us?) warm air.
On the bitterest days of winter this spot, about two-thirds of the way down the block, serves as a way station—an oasis, even—for me and a couple of other professors who need to escape the cold. If we’re walking from the CC to our building and the traffic light turns red as we approach the intersection, we turn right back around and go bask in the warm air under these vents until we get the green light.
Because why would anyone stand at the corner all exposed to the wind when they could linger beneath this vent’s tropical breezes about twenty yards away instead? It’s like getting a big, warm hug of encouragement—Hang in there, you can do this winter thing!—so that when the light changes, we have the fortitude to brave the cold again and hustle across Broadway to our offices.