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Winter Came Early This Year

While the kitchen sink pipes thaw, I will scribble. It was cold this morning . We cupped our hot coffee mugs in our hands, waiting for the stove to warm the room. Just before the sun came up the temperature dropped even further to finally hit -18 degrees. It’s early for such cold and the snow is deep. But I enjoy a good winter. The sun is brilliant today … irresistibly bright and I need to be out there in it. I bundled up in layers: my new gloves inside Elv’s leather chore gloves, two neck scarves, two jackets over two other layers, and my trusty Eastland shoes kept my feet toasty. There! All set to haul six wheelbarrow loads of firewood up to fill the outside rack. The snow squeaked underfoot in this cold. The snow blown in around the wood rick is dry and powdery. I had to stand there and admire the blue, blue sky beyond the snow laden tree tops for a long moment. The garden hides under the thick blue/grey shadowed whiteness. I have a hard time believing that I browsed, a big basket on my arm, gathering sun-ripened tomatoes, peas and cucumbers until it was full and heavy many times last summer and fall. Rows of stalwart zinnias seems far-fetched.

For now we can see how much snow we’ve accumulated by looking at the patio bench. And that is not completely accurate because some of that had to have knocked off when the wicked ice fell off the edge during that warm spell earlier in the week. Speaking of which, Brad is working on insulating upstairs so that we can stop having the ice castle effect on our stone house. We realize that ice dams and ‘cicles hanging off the edges, be they ever so large and “beautiful”, are not proper. They are damaging and dangerous. Thus the mess upstairs.

Tea from a thick, blue mug kept warm on the top of the stove while I was out hauling wood has it’s own winter romance. One just must keep something warm to drink nearby and coffee has its limits, I hate to admit. Herbal teas are lame, no doubt, as proper teas go, but I’m not a tea connoisseur, so in my mug is licorice and slippery elm tea, otherwise known as Throat Coat.

When it came time to rescue any plants from frost; I brought this little button fern in, planted in a pretty pot. And when Kristine moved from the big house to their tiny house; she had no room for her house plants. Thus this winter, instead of perpetrating the folly of forcing bulbs, I have been nurturing a few house plants. So far the only thing that has died was a dubious succulent that I took from the church patio pot. All summer, in the pot, the amazing plant grew and multiplied, gloriously blooming little red flowers all over it’s hanging masses. You can’t blame me for wanting to try. But some things are meant to be grown in church flower pots and not on kitchen windowsills regardless how loved they might be.

Since we moved the piano to the other wall it has decided to behave and give me better sound and action. I had no idea it was suffering there at the foot of the stairs, the whole of it racked wrongly. So I’ve been playing piano again: the carols from the songbooks, by ear, and through the old favorite hymns and tunes. Amazingly, while I was away letting the girls take up the piano music space in our lives, I haven’t lost my wits about it. Since I listen to music almost constantly, I have absorbed more than I thought possible.

While cleaning at the church this week I spent a bit of time basking in the light that pours in through the banks of windows off the snow. And the slanted pools of sunshine on the pews and walls. Only this time, not pews … chairs. (We needed to replace our old pews.) I love chapels. I love to stand alone at the back when I’m cleaning and think and remember. Do you think a room like this knows it is a worship place? Even when it is empty? Yes, I know, that is all uncomfortably mystical and unreal. Maybe. I know though, that the cleaning person sees things, finds things, cleans up little messes and straightens. It is a sweet privilege to pray for the people who come here each Sunday. To find what’s left of a spilled plate, or the usually distributed tissue boxes gathered into a circle where they were most needed. I especially love our chapel and the people who gather here.

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