The day started out notably cold today, like three degrees above zero cold. When I slipped my legs from beneath the comforters (plural, indeed), the cold in the air reminded me of my youth when I lived in a farmhouse that had a thin layer of plaster and lath as a wall, with a pocket of cold air layer behind it, then a layer of asbestos siding, and then the harsh winds outside. The difference between those walls and those of a canvas tent were fairly minimal on a frigid winter day. But, it’s what we had and we made do, sometimes without heat, in the years of greatest struggle and, truly they were the years of greatest achievement.
So the cold today in Saybrook was not as bad as when I was a kid and we warmed our shoes on the opened oven door that Mom had turned on in the kitchen to warm the room and adjacent bathroom before we dashed from under the cold blankets. Still, the dogs were curled nose-under-tail on the couch and the living room thermostat read 55. Chilly, to be sure.
Soon, though, the sun came up and angled itself upon its low winter arch in the southern sky. The warming rays pour beautifully into the kitchen when we slide the old farmhouse door out of the way like that very portal was designed by the ancient druids to gain maximum solar effect through openings in stone. The dogs first gazed out at the neighbor’s yard a couple of acres away and soon succumbed to the sun’s warmth on the wood floor. The napped all in a row like seals on a warm Cali beach.
But, I am a devotee of weather apps and it sure looks like we have some winter on the way. Tuesday’s high of no better than two or three above zero, and minus eight Monday night has a way of feeling damned ominous. And while the HVAC guys who wandered around the basement Friday afternoon like Inspector Lestrade and co. are due back Monday afternoon to fix a stuck zone valve, I am skeptical their work will do enough to warm the zones where the valves are already open. Not many houses and heating systems are designed to make minus eight feel like San Diego.
The dogs, though, they live in the moment. And they are napping in all sorts of warm places, belly up to the world, no need to tuck their noses today.
And lest I forget the cat! Pokey has arrived in Saybrook, safely making his way in a milk crate atop a flannel blanket all the way from Cleveland Heights yesterday. He’s safely tucked into Chris’s temporary studio for now, with it’s warm printer and cozy closet–far from Stout, who knows not of cats as friends, only foes. Indeed, tonight he routed a stray one from under the front porch–it shot in front of me like a swallow on a summer’s night and climbed one of our few trees as quick as an ember rises in the night from a campfire. Tasha yipped at him up on his shaking branch. Stout kept looking where the cat was moments before (Pokey’s best hope is Stout’s stubbornness), and Sammy just wanted to get back to the cast iron stove in the kitchen, where it’s always warm, sun or no sun.
The cold makes us appreciate the warmth, much as the darkness makes us appreciate the light and the longing makes us appreciate the having.