Knowing the Cold
I awake on these single digit mornings in this century-old house and don my winter-morning uniform, grumbling in the cold. Long johns, wool socks, heavy sweats, two shirts and a bathrobe. The house won’t hold heat to keep it more than 60 degrees inside when it’s 3 outside and the wind–even high over the ridges above us and not down where we live–still sucks the warmth through every unsealed joint and chink out into the night air.
What must it have been like a hundred years ago sitting on the side of a bed at 4 a.m. in this very room, no insulation in walls or attic whatsoever, thin rugs rippling on the floor as the wind blew through the stacked-rock foundation? The fireplaces–three of them–would have sucked more heat out than the dying morning embers added. It would have been well down into the 40s most likely. I’m sure you could see your breath while donning what clothes you might have had to bring some feeling back into cold feet and hands.
There were still coals left in the stove this morning; I’m making a point to select the high-heat wood from the stack, saving the all-night logs for just before bed, so rekindling will be easy the next morning without using up too much of the stuff that has to be split from the bigger pieces. My knee injury from a week ago today still hinders me from full duty at the woodpile.
The usual workday duty of scraping Ann’s windshield was a pleasant obligation today, the crescent moon’s dark 90% a visible shadow, a bright Venus (I’m thinking) not so far off to the east, both just above the treeline from the house, just below it as I stood there in the dark scraping frost. What a wonderful world. I should not have read the morning news first thing. Bad habit.
The creek is making that muffled winter sound whimpering from under the ice; wind in trees like reeds whistles away to the southeast. And I had thoughts of spring.