Chambers Street smelled of fresh coffee and cinnamon donuts and diesel exhaust as Eduardo tried to keep his fruit warm this morning.
“The grapes will turn to mush if they freeze,” he explained. “And nobody wants brown bananas.”
The promise of a warmer afternoon was a long way off as Eduardo was setting up his produce cart before dawn.
“The trick is to survive until the sun hits,” he said. “As long as it’s clear and not too far below freezing you can make it through the day with a little luck.”
A large tarp helps, too.
“That’s the most important thing,” Eduardo said. “I spread the plastic over everything and then crawl under a corner with a little flashlight to read the newspapers.
“They aren’t too interesting because there isn’t much baseball news these days,” he continued. “I probably wouldn’t even bother if they didn’t help keep me warm later.”
A few fat tabloids between his feet and the cold cement make all the difference once the customers start coming.
“That’s why I always grab the free papers,” Eduardo said. “They make good insulation on days like this.”
There are a lot more of these days between him and spring.
“People talk about pitchers and catchers reporting to Tampa,” Eduardo said. “That’s fine, but I’m in New York so it doesn’t really help me.
“I’m looking forward to Opening Day at Yankee Stadium,” he continued. “That’s when things will get better around here. There will be more to read in the newspapers and I won’t have to worry as much about my fruit.”
Eduardo cracked a smile.
“At least I hope it’s above freezing that day.”