Winter Rituals


Eyeing the red numerals on the digital clock at a few minutes before 7 a.m. I considered burrowing into the covers and trying for a bit more sleep. Beyond my west window the landscape was blurred;  my bedroom seemed bereft of color, dulled by the milky grey mist outside.

The cats sensed I was awake, Elmo pouncing to purr moistly in my ear, Shelby and Rosie skidding across the bed to dislodge items on the vintage washstand by the window.

So, time to get up. 
The outside temperature stood at 28 F and the fire in the wood stove had died down. The electric heat takes over, so we don't get up to a seriously cold house. 

In honor of the change in the weather I chose the sort of garments I would have worn in Vermont or Wyoming on a January day: heavy tights, a favorite turtleneck pullover layered with a nubby zip-front cardigan. A mid-length denim skirt and a pair of wool house shoes with furry lining.

By the time we finished breakfast the sun was shining--a welcome sight after days of gloomy rain and clouds.

I pulled on my wellies and a down vest, went out into the blue and sunny day.
The fire-damaged hybrid magnolia raises twiggy branches against the sky.

A frost-crisped leaf in the pasture grass.
The lane is still spongey from the weekend's heavy rains.

Sumac torches are ruddy at the edge of the north ravine.

Self-sown nigella at the edge of the front raised bed produced buds in the unseasonable warmth. 

Shelby cat appears whenever I walk around the lower pasture. She has a habit of darting between my feet, rolling, inflating her tail. She followed, weaving about, parading across the retaining wall near the house, skittish and silly.

At supper time--butternut squash soup, cinnamon toast, a salad--we reminisce about other winters--weeks of unrelenting cold, blue-shadowed snow drifted high, icy roads; the wearisome tasks of keeping water pipes thawed, vehicles running, stoking fires to maintain heat in the heart of the house.

There was undeniable beauty in the snowy landscapes so familiar during our years in Vermont and Wyoming, but winters there are demanding. 
The rituals of wearing a red sweater and wooly socks, of making soup for a winter meal, are a pleasant remembrance transferred to the easier January weather of Kentucky.

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