The Big Sleep

Best to attribute your fat to thermal clothing.

Best to attribute your fat to thermal clothing. Sculpture at the healthy eating exhibit – Wellcome Collection, London U.K.

If it looks cold, it probably is. Complaints like flinty fleck of sleet fly through the air: the road is slick; the car is cold; the trees are bare.

And  from every woman’s lips, “I look fat in my long underwear.” Well, that’s true. You do look fat in your waffle-weave thermals. Waddling as you walk is not a good look. On the other hand, you can take heart that with your clothing off – in the shower or the sauna at Club America, you look slimmer.

As night lengthens, it is easy to cycle down and get depressed. I am highly dependent on the sun, and I work hard to rise above the darkness and the cold.

Spiraling down.

Spiraling down.

It helps to remember that some of our neighbors sleep in poorly insulated homes and warming a bracing cup of tea or coffee in the microwave is not an option. Nor are we standing on the street corner with a “willing to work” sign. Nor are we eating at a soup kitchen or ‘sleeping rough.’

Cold and despair are relative.

My darlings - hanging on until spring.

My darlings – hanging on until spring.

Wintering over my summer geraniums works for me. To have something growing and blooming, that’s the thing.

Yes, I’ll have to prune them. And the pruning is painful. Cutting off every leggy bloom is painful. Does the geranium register pain? I’m reminded when, as a small child, my mother would spank me saying, “This is for your own good. You’ll thank me when you are older.” Will my geraniums look past their pain and thank me when they are older? Probably not.

This remembering business takes me back many years to a good friend living in Canon City. It was fall when her husband of 50-plus years died, and after his death, Florence was so busy with death duties that she forgot about the spring bulbs she had planned to plant.

The seasons cycle down in the fall, up in the spring.

The seasons cycle down in the fall, up in the spring.

By the time she had pulled herself together, winter had set in. Noticing the neglected bulbs, she tossed them out in the snow. Not the next spring, but a year-and-a-half later, she phoned: “The bulbs… the bulbs! They’re blooming! Bill has come back to say Hello!”

I tell this story because it cheers me and also reminds me that although winter looms,  winter is a rest period. We rest so that come spring, we can bloom again.

Come December I pull my great-grandmother’s velvet quilt out of the blanket chest. Old quilts should be unrolled and used at least once a year. The story behind velvet quilt is that at age twelve, my grandfather Irion was apprenticed to a milliner in Utica, NY. In those days, milliners would buy a basic hat, but the dressing of the hat (the fabrics, the feathers, the fruit, etc.) happened in-house. The woman who was purchasing the hat would sit before a three-way, beauty parlor mirror, and Grandpa would style the hat on her head.

Sunlight and shadow

Sunlight and shadow

Early on, when Grandpa was still delivering hats by bicycle, he asked if he could have the velvet scraps lying on the floor. These he took home to his widowed mother who supported her sons by hand sewing bound-buttonholes in men’s winter coats. In her free time, she sewed the strips together… again by hand. I love the one orange strip – a hopeful strip in a quilt that is primarily black and burgundy. I love the story and the hopefulness of this orange stripe. Also, if the winter sun hits the quilt just right, I have the most perfect example of “sunlight and shadow.”

Shadow today / Sunlight tomorrow.

About timeout2

I have lived 100 lives. I write essays, short stories, poetry, grocery lists and notes to myself. If I am ever lost, look for a paper trail, but be careful not to trip over any books that lie scattered here and there. I am a reader. I am a reader in awe of writers. When I don't live in Westcliffe, Colorado, I live in London where I am a long-time member of Word-for-Word - Crouch End.
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9 Responses to The Big Sleep

  1. Bar Scott says:

    Good one, Doris! Love the quilt and the story and the pics.

    I’m in Denver for the book party. Would rather stay in and write because my La Quinta hotel room is SOOOOO quiet. Gotta go face the traffic.

    See you soon, I hope

    Love. Bar

    >

  2. 2000detours says:

    Love the story of the bulbs and the message of hope there and in your quilt. Warm thoughts on a cool night.

    • timeout2 says:

      The best stories are the ones that we don’t have to make up. How many times do we say, “I wouldn’t have believed it if I hadn’t seen it myself”? Thanks for reading. There is nothing I like better than a detour.

  3. Anne says:

    Stay warm spring always comes again hugs Annr

    • timeout2 says:

      Spring comes again and you will return to ride herd on the Westcliffe Center for the Performing Arts. Thank you, thank you, thank you for keeping The Jones alive and expanding the ambitious summer season. What a legacy! Every night you should go to sleep with a smile on your face. xo

  4. Monica says:

    Doris
    What a great memory!

  5. Maria Weber says:

    I hear you! It takes an effort to stay “up” this time of year. Thanks for your beautiful blog, as always. We had an excellent poetry group y’day.

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