I sat on the couch with uncontrollable shivers the other night and tried to remember what it was like to be uncomfortably warm. Muggy and buggy and smothering humidity. Trying to catch a breeze from the chugging ceiling fan.
That fan now sits motionless. It’s humming has been replaced by the rumbling humidifier that tries to put a little moisture in the air that is so dry my hair stands on end like I’m getting an electric shock. The window at the top of the stairs has a crack in it and the freezing air paints incredibly beautiful patterns on the frosty glass. Who cares!
My skin hurts. The tableware is painfully cold to the touch. The cat spends the night on the sill of one particular bedroom window that we leave open just a crack. Every once in a while she runs over to the chimney and plasters her body against it. When she’s warm enough, she goes back to her sentry post in the window.
The mouthwash is so cold it hurts my teeth.
It would be more bearable if there were snow on the ground. I know the reason for the bare landscape: My husband changed the oil in the snow blower and he made sure there was plenty of gas in it. He put new wooden tents over the shrubbery. I’ll never let him do that again.
A few days ago, the Retreat Meadows developed, at first, an icy sheen and within hours, scores of skaters and fishing shacks seemed to pop out of the bushes. I gotta admit, it’s a beautiful sight. Cold, but beautiful. Our babbling brook is frozen in mid babble.
My daily stroll has become a little more infrequent and my clothing a lot more excessive. I wear rag wool mittens over gloves that have been microwaved for a few minutes. I dug out a pair of genuine, 100% wool socks that really keep my feet warm when I’m in the kitchen. In the living room the floors are so cold that the bottoms of my feet get numb, wool socks or not. I’ve taken to wearing my husband’s ski mask, you know, the kind favored by bank robbers, and my walking partner commented, “It’s not that cold. In fact, it’s not that cold in Antarctica.” OK, warmth comes at the expense of chic.
Five minutes after Christmas was over the summer catalogs started arriving, taunting us with colorful photos of people frolicking in the warm, soothing ocean. These people have golden skin and are frequently photographed slathering on creams that will prevent them from burning in the hot sun. They are sometimes shown bouncing in the waves with their arms wrapped around their torsos, pretending the water is cold. They don’t know cold.
The sound of the oil burner kicking on is the sound of money burning. The plows roar noisily by on bare roads as they search for some snow to push around. My car makes that awful rrr-rrr sound that tells me it’s just thinking about starting and I shouldn’t make plans any time soon.
Look at the bright side, there aren’t any mosquitoes.