Winter, for me, somehow seems most heartless in the mornings. Growing up in Chicago, winter mornings were cold with deep snow. When I was quite young, I didn’t think much about cold mornings but anticipated going sledding. We lived in a park with a small hill that was just right for a five- or six=year-old to sled. By the time the neighbor children and I reached ten or eleven, we were bored with the hill’s smallness.
My mom used to save statistics she found in the newspaper about how much soot fell per square foot in Chicago during the winter. I was young long enough ago that many households still used coal for heat. We did at least until I was in my teens, and my dad would get up extra early to light the furnace and shovel coal. And snow never stayed white for long—all that burning coal turned it a dirty gray.
In Missouri, where I was in graduate school in the small town of Kirksville, winter mornings were even worse. Everyone in that town burned coal, and I remember waking up and looking out the window and wishing just once I could see something over than that vast expanse of gray snow.
I think I found the kind of winter mornings I dreamt of in Santa Fe when the children, as teens and older, and I would go for Christmas. Eventually those became ski vacations, though I never went near the slopes—couldn’t bear the thought of the ski lift nor of standing on top of a mountain and plunging down it. But the snow was clean and deep, and the air was that crisp cold.
By contrast, winter mornings in Texas should be easy, but I have let myself become spoiled. I have pushed those extreme cold memories so far back that I moan and groan on mornings like we had today. Thirty-seven and wet, dismal, damp, bone-chilling. Today, it set the mood for a stay-at-home day, and I cancelled plans to go to a breakfast meeting. Of course by noon, things changed, and the sun came out, though it’s been cold all day. But we didn’t get the snow that had been promised—and I am just as glad.
When my children were little, we had a beloved housekeeper who used to predict cheerfully that it would “fair off,” and sure enough today, it faired off enough that I felt guilty about not doing my errands. But I’ll do them tomorrow when it’s supposed to be warmer.
Even Sophie with her thick curly coat doesn’t like the cold. Tonight she doesn’t want to go outside, though I have tried to explain that she needs to go pee now, because we aren’t going at three in the morning. She is curled up in a chair, regarding me with baleful eyes. I’ll have to resort to bribery with a piece of cheese.
I’ve been feeling sorry for myself even before the weather turned, because I’ve been fighting off a cold. A couple of nights ago I couldn’t sleep because a scratchiness in my throat kept making me cough. It turned briefly into a sore throat, then just a tightness in my throat, and tonight I am left with just an annoying cough. Wish I knew what I did with that abundant supply of cough drops I used to have.
Jordan and I had a lunch fiasco which didn’t brighten the day. I opened one of those boxes of tomato soup from Trader Joe’s. It turned out that the foil covering was punctured before I opened it, and I had stored the soup in the pantry, not the refrigerator, We didn’t figure all this out until I’d taken several spoons full and found it quite good. But discussion led us to figure out that neither of us opened it, and that was a bad thing. Jordan refused to eat it, and I threw out mine, hers, and the remainder. I hate to waste food!
Sophie has just gone outside and quickly come back in, and Jacob has brought me some cough drops. All is well with the world—I hope it is in your world too.