Friday, February 01, 2019

after the climb

Anyone living here will have experienced a monumental shift of mood today: good bye January, strange, long month, full of sniffles, unexpected temperatures and resultant shutdowns. Hello February. Good bye Polar Vortex, hello regular old winter. Reporters, looking for new and imaginative ways to describe this week's bitter cold, compared our temperatures to those at the base of Mt. Everest. Ours were colder. But the comparison led me thinking that it really did feel like we had climbed Mt. Everest (or some such formidable peak) and now it's just a question of getting down. Still challenging, but so much less draining than the trek up into the unknown.

We are back in business. Schools open, Ed's techie meeting is on the schedule, my grocery shopping will proceed as it always does on Fridays -- with awe and wonder at the incredible bounty in our stores and with images of the good meals that may come next week from stuff that I pack into the grocery cart.

But first, of course, there are the animals. Early, quite early, I step out into a blissfully mild 0F (-18C). Wow! So warm!

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So much pretty snow...

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(Looking toward the young orchard...)

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We turn off the heater in the barn. The cheepers can manage this next week's temperatures on their own. Indeed, overheating them now is dangerous: they must stay acclimatized to the current winter conditions. As for the cats -- we'll keep the one bulb going in the buckets.

Jacket, the kitten that looks like the dad rather than like Stop Sign, is getting just a little bolder. He did not instantly run away when he saw me in the distance.

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Yes, Jacket in my mind is a male cat and Dance is the girl. I have no basis for guessing this except my preconceptions on how boy cats and girl cats differ in their behavior.

At breakfast...

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... I ask Ed -- do you think we need to worry about the snow pileup on the porch roof? If you recall, Ed and I built a roof of plates of glass. How much weight is too much?
Ed shrugs off my concerns. It's fine. If you stood in one spot on the glass, you'd place more weight in that spot than any amount of snow there now.

Still, after I return from grocery shopping, I look at the snow up there in dismay. In the past, I have always shoveled it all off. For one thing, it made the kitchen that much lighter. And this weekend we're to get lots of rain, followed by more cold. In my mind, that's a recipe for problems: once ice forms there, it wont be safe to be out shoveling. And what if more snow falls after? It's a northern exposure roof. Sunshine wont reach it until mid spring.

If you were me, would you go out and take on that foot (more?) of snow on the roof? Yes, I know I've complained of knee and back injuries. But I've been doing the exercises (more or less)! So, if you were me, would you shovel?

Well, of course, if you were me, you would, because I do shovel. And why not?! We have a gift of sunshine and it's just so pretty to be out there, what with my iPhone set to lovely folksy music and the temperatures reaching a gorgeous 16F(-9C) -- I can do a little and see how it goes, right?

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There is a bit of hesitation: I really should wait for Ed to be home so that he can pick up any broken bones from a hypothetical fall, but honestly, falling from that roof into a pile of snow cannot be that terrible!

(Stop Sign, reminding me that it's time for lunch ...)

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In the end, I clear the whole roof. It takes me 45 minutes and it makes me feel far far younger than my 65 years.

And after, I pick up Snowdrop.

By all accounts, it was an unusual school day. I don't know about the boys (seriously, there is a detectable gender difference in this among 3-4-5 year olds), but the girls, I'm told, were giving each other big bear hugs throughout the day. I witnessed this as I tried to disengage an enveloped Snowdrop. Parents may have been overjoyed to have their offspring sprung off to schools again, but it seems that the kids were equally glad to be among their own.

As I snap her into the car seat, she asks -- can we go to the coffee shop and get a croissant? 
The coffee shop doesn't have them, sweet one. We'd have to go to the bakery.
Which one?
Madison Sourdough. You've been there with me before. (But I had never before referred to it by name.)
Madison Sourdough? That's so funny!
It's the place where you park your car by the wall art.

Oh, indeed. She remembers.

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Pain au chocolat! Like the old days!

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As we walk back to the car, she asks -- you didn't park on stripes, did you?
I did not. How do you know about that? Did someone tell you?
No... I just grew up knowing.

I haven't ventured out with her beyond our usual orbit. I see that at age 4, she now has the geography of the place down pat. "Oh! This is the way to our old house!" " That's where we go to visit Mr. J and Ms M!" (Mommy's friends.) "And Sol lived here. But now he lives by the zoo."

The other thing I notice is that today, she rejects a cap or even mitts on her walk from car to farmhouse. Blessed warmup!

(I also see that her bangs are too long. First game at home: let's play hair salon!)

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And we do. And I trim her bangs. And we play a little of the pretend games we've been playing all week long. But I notice a difference: she's not insatiable. She had a round of pretend with her friends. She's open to other ideas now.

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Ed comes home. She gives him a full explanation of how we should go about catching the second mouse in the farmhouse. Because of course, there is a second mouse.

A day of change. Of relief. Ultimately of sunshine. Of happy thoughts about what's ahead.