far too much writing, far too many photos

Left the house this morning as the very first traces of light were beginning to gather in the eastern sky. 6:20 a.m., more or less, outside temperature around -20F/-29C. A kind of cold I hadn’t experienced in a while, and it was interesting to move through the process involved in going out into it.

The first response: looking around, taking a cautious breath, thinking Hey, this isn’t so bad. And at first it wasn’t. No wind, air still — just the intense sensation of cold. The body continued functioning, didn’t go into a seizure, though my post-haircut head (shorn yesterday) began calling for help as the reality of less cranial insulation became a factor. Hands pulled hood up, body stumbled ahead, feeling a flimsy illusion of invulnerability.

In the car: pulled out onto the narrow road, aimed vehicle down the hill, slipped quietly through early morning darkness. Turned onto the two-lane, got moving toward Montpelier. Noticed one immediate indication of just how cold it actually was: the car’s heater — usually quick to begin cranking out warm air — could not make a dent in the chill. I begin to feel a slight warming as I arrived in town. Just in time to park, kill engine, step out back out into arctic conditions.

I once went out for a while with a woman who grew up in North Dakota. She told stories about the winters there, how the furnace would go on in November and remain running for months without interruption, about temperatures so cold that when she stepped outside with a bag of garbage on one occasion, the bag froze and shattered. (She also talked of how families there would take group vacations, going to enclosed motels together for a weekend of warm temperatures, of lounging around the indoor courtyard pool, of eating motel food — staying in that environment the entire weekend, avoiding the brutal reality outside.) Intellectually, I can appreciate how that puts conditions here into perspective. Doesn’t make much difference to my bod when I’m out in this region’s version of intense cold. As I walked three blocks from car to destination (small office rented on short-term lease — heated, with wi-fi and no distractions), the experience became more and more focused on the simple idea of arriving, the relief of stepping inside, my thoughts narrowing around the quiet internal chant I want to be there, I want to be there. A lone jogger passed me as I rounded a corner onto the final block-long leg of the trip, feet hitting snowy pavement and breath loud in the quiet air.

It’s the second day of an arctic air cold-wave. The panic-mongers in the weather biz have been warning that tonight and tomorrow night will be even colder. Swell. In the meantime, I get to enjoy a day of intense January sunshine, sky clear, golden light slanting in the windows of the house’s south-facing side. Light so intense it has a warming effect even on a day like this, high temperatures in the neighborhood of 0°F/-18°C.

Sunshine. No falling snow. Music filling the living space from the living room stereo. Good food to hoover down, whot tea to sip. Warm clothing, a stove down in the basement cranking out heat.

I’ll deal with the cold when I have to. But not right now.

On with the day.

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Mid-winter, northern Vermont:

España, te echo de menos

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