I don’t know when I’ve been so cold. My fingers seem to be extensions of a wooden marionette’s hands, but the person pulling the strings is somewhat handicapped. Mittens or gloves won’t solve this problem. I need a hot tub or a bath. If the fixtures are within toe-reach, I can put my wasteful water, environmental reservations on the back burner and keep the hot water coming.
That said, guilt is never far away. Although Custer County is 103 % of average snowfall to date and our heaviest snow falls in March and April, we have nothing to crow about. The monsoons missed us this past fall, so in terms of water retention, we are behind the curve and not likely to catch up. Global warming is alive and on-going in Southeast Colorado.
The temperature was zero again this morning. Situated at 8,000 feet and caught on the Valley floor between the Wet Mountains to the east and the Sangre de Christos to the west, the cold settles on the terrain like a rain-soaked, frozen tarp.
You might know the Gustav Holst hymn, “In the Bleak Mid-Winter.” Based on a poem written by Christina Rossetti in 1872, the words are: In the bleak mid-winter, / Frosty wind made moan; / Earth stood still as iron, / Water like a stone; / Snow had fallen, snow on snow, / Snow on snow, in the bleak of winter long ago. How perfect: The frosty wind made moan. The wind moans and gusts. It’s the 40-50 mph gusts that get you.
It snowed here weeks ago, and still the snow stands. It refuses to melt or drift away. If you didn’t know better, you might think that the snow is white stucco. As for the ice, it is treacherous. No one walks in a straight line. Rather, hoping not to slip, we weave from bare ground to bare ground. Having reached the age of broken knees and hips, I move with the caution of an older woman. Not that I am an older woman, but I move with the caution of an older woman. (Bare-faced self-delusion.)
Reminiscing, I think of my youth in Upstate New York where the snow is commonly several feet high throughout a never-ending winter. Sledding, tobogganing and ice skating (unattended after school on farm ponds) ruled our days. I do not remember being cold. I do remember stashing my winter coat along side of the road before getting on the bus. The cool kids did not wear coats. Not that I was a cool kid, but I dressed the part.
Now I’m cold all the time. What has changed? Is it my metabolism? And to think, in my youth, we used to laugh at all the oldsters who went to Florida or Arizona in the winter. We thought them weak – not deserving of living Upstate and braving the winter where men were men and women were just as tough if not tougher.
I think I’m through pretending to be tough. No body cares. Least of all me. I think I’m a lot like an old cat. Curled up by a blazing fire, the flames licking the glass and the cast-iron kettle steaming on top of the stove. My claws only come out when provoked, but aside from national politics, little provokes me. I’m in the zone. I read; I write; I feed the birds; I look forward to gardening in the spring.
Sitting two feet from the woodstove, I might as well be in Florida or Arizona.
I will close with a photo of Jackson, my newest grandson. Untended for the moment, he has taken his blanket and with his feet up on the fireplace, he has curled up in a patch of sunlight. That could be me!
The apple never falls far from the tree.