dark days, bright days

Around here lately we have boxes in the mail to look forward to. Myron has two sets of chess coming, one an antique and the other newer and otherwise interesting. There are so many books, too, more books than I can tell you about. Even today, three showed up amid the Christmas cards (musical) and the Serious Mail with Account Numbers. One of them is a book of writing exercises. You would think I’d be sick of writing lately, and I am not. I’m in a groove again the likes of which I haven’t experienced since late September. Words swish through me and out through my fingers lately with all the force of a waterfall, and not one of those trickly ones, either. 

The first round of veterinary testing was inconclusive, so the baby has a procedure scheduled for later on this month, just before Christmas. It’s hard to know how to move forward with him unless we’re 100% sure of what we’re dealing with. I look at him with his beautiful eyes, one with a marked iris and the other one clear, and I wish he could say anything to me to let me know how he felt or what I should do for him. He knows he doesn’t feel well, but in his eyes, all I can see is his loving ohkimmy look as he tucks himself into a cinnamon roll and takes yet another nap. By now, we’re used to his new noises and scratchier voice, and his straitened appetite. It should be the new normal, but it is not normal; it will never be normal.
Yesterday I took the camera out into the biting cold and stood on the picnic table at the park to try to catch a particular angle of the rear of our house. A skim of clouds muted the sun, which was huge and low in the sky. Such potential for yellow light, and yet it could do nothing to brighten the day, which stayed resolutely dim. I wasn’t happy with anything I got. In just a few weeks the days will start getting longer again, and I’ll be able to think ahead to the days when I can barely stand to sleep with a sheet, let alone a comforter. And socks, and flannel pajama pants and extra blankets and the skin-sapping furnace.
Right now, though, the chill is sinking in. My knuckles are still dry and scaly from those moments out in the park, standing on the picnic table like I owned it. I went with the fingerless gloves so that I could access all the tiny buttons on the camera, flick the wheel that slows the shutter speed. In two layers of pants, three tops, a massive winter parka complete with a fur-trimmed hood, I could barely stand to stay outside for ten minutes, and I was back inside before fifteen had passed. Everything hurts with this kind of cold, but as soon as you’re inside, it melts off of you like ice held under a stream of hot tap water. You look around your walls with new gratitude every time. Winter will get old before I stop feeling this pleasure in being home again, this warmth in my muscles as solid as anything else I can touch if I just reach out. I’m present in all of it.
It’s -15C/4F right now—it won’t get much warmer—and you’d think this would ruin everything. But I’m about to slap on all those layers again and get to the post office, and then make a run for flour and walnuts and chocolate and coconut. The skies have that marvelous blue back in them today, and my Christmas spirit, such as it is, wants to bake goodies for a few people who deserve them. Experience dictates that if you give away the fruits of baking labors, the unbaked calories clinging to the bowl don’t count. And I take that kind of win-win where I can get it.