Friday, January 26, 2007

Big Chill

It's insanely cold outside the window today.

The rhododendrons tell you all you need to know, there's no need for a thermometer. The elegant, bronzy leaves of the miniature variety of rhody that peeks endlessly into our living room windows have winced into tight little curls until they look like pine needles. It's winter, baby.

Winter is always late coming along the coast here in Massachusetts. The ocean water stays warm for a good long time. I've gone sailing in December in Sippican Harbor, and since the air and water temp were close together, there was nothing of a test of hardihood about it. Just a pleasant, windless sail.

The ocean ain't warm anymore, and the weather we're getting now wouldn't care if it was lava. The earth turns and cools, and the polar weather comes down like an invasion; it pushes any last vestige of mildness in front of it like a plow, and shoves it to Portugal, for all I know -- I know it ain't here. I tried opening the door that faces northwest today to let the shivering cat in, and I had to push hard against the air to let it in. It wasn't wind, it was pressure, pure and simple. An invisible glacier, moving implacably.

The interior delights trump all now. A fire in the evening. A pool of light under the swing arm lamp. A club chair and a little table, warm with the glow of the woodgrain itself, the sunlight of the tree's life captured and held in its medullary rays. A hot cup of something on a little missal of a book. The tick of the baseboard heat.

Late at night, if you awaken, you can hear the not-too-distant bog groan as it tries to shoulder the load of ice it's inherited. The moonbeams come in the window, and you can feel the cold of outer space on them. They illuminate, but do not warm, like a candle in a crypt. Then there is the faint sigh of the one you're devoted to; or the indistinct rustle of the hot little heads that dream down the hall, as they shift in their nests of blankets, snug amongst their stuffed talismans of childhood.

It's delightful to be warm in a cold world


Editor Theorist said...


Bird Dog said...

The rhodadendron leaves are just like the Male Organ: they shrivel up when it's below 10 degrees.
Either are good thermometers.

karen said...

We had 20below yesterday morning- don't know what it was this am. Down in town, my husbands' folks had 28below- a neighbour had 26below- but, above the neighbour on Buck Hill= 1above.

When i go to do the horses(feed, H2O&clean- they share a 3-sided shed)my hair ends get frosted by my own laboured breathing- i need more horse ;0). It's way cool to see how frozen my own hair gets just 30 minutes of warm breath on it. I'm glad i'm not a fella.

The sun sure does lie.