11/7/19

And so this week’s moment of happiness despite the news.

I really had to work hard to come up with a moment this week. It’s been on the gloomy side here, not helped at all by the first major snowfall arriving on Halloween. I feel like I haven’t had a chance to catch my breath between summer and winter because there wasn’t a fall. Honestly, I had the a/c on a couple weeks ago, then a few days later, had my windows open, and a few days after that, slammed those windows shut and put on the furnace. And then the snow fell. The weathermen announced it was coming, but who believes weathermen when they’re screeching warnings about the first of something in a season? They’re always premature. But that night of the predicted six inches (or early morning, depending on your perspective), I was heading toward bed at two in the morning, glanced out my bedroom window, and saw the snow falling in the glow of the streetlights. Some people might be struck dumb by the beauty, by the serenity, by the lacy loveliness falling like stars from the night sky.

Not me. I skidded to a stop on my beeline to bed and shouted, “Oh, hell, no!”

Since that first snow, we’ve had more snow, and I have been putting up a resistant front. Semi, my convertible, is in the garage with the top still down, waiting for one last ride of the season. At Starbucks, I’m still ordering my drink iced, not extra hot. One of the baristas even called through the speaker, “It’s cold now, Kathie! Why aren’t you doing extra hot?” “I refuse!” I called back. “Summer is NOT over.”

Well, outside it is, I guess. But the heat of summer burns eternal in me. I was born in St. Louis, but by the time I was 6 years old, I was living in the tippy top of northern Minnesota. From there, I dropped down to Wisconsin. You would think the cold would just be a natural part of me by now.

No. There is a small space heater sitting on my desk all year. It runs even when the a/c is on. I have an electric throw that I curl under and fight the cat for. There are three blankets on my bed. My cars have heated seats, and often, even in the convertible, they are turned to high. I swear my next car will have a heated steering wheel as well. I wear a lot of sweaters.

I despise the cold.

Why don’t I move? I wonder that too. But my business is here. And my youngest just started college here. Until she graduates, I won’t venture very far away. So instead, I’ll stare out the window and shout, “Oh, hell, no!”

But there was a Moment.

I had insomnia one night, something I’m hit with a few nights every week. It was another reason toward this week’s gloom. Lately, when it hits, it stays, and I can’t fall asleep until an hour or so away from when I need to be up. I used to fight it, staying in bed, snarling, saying, “Sleep, dammit!” But more recently, I just give in and get up. Usually, I work. But on this night, I wandered downstairs, my heated throw in hand. I turned on my fireplace (gotta love gas fireplaces), plugged in my throw, curled into my recliner, and put my feet up. I turned on only the light by my side – the rest of the house was in darkness, and I had the flickering firelight and the steady lamp-glow beside me. I had a good book. Soon, I had a small gray cat purring on my lap. The dog came downstairs and settled in the seat beside me. Around me, the house was sleeping, Michael upstairs, Patrick down the hall, and I knew that in various spots in Waukesha, in Wauwatosa, in Louisiana, my kids and granddaughter were sleeping.

I live right in the city, but at that hour, it was so quiet, I might as well have been in the countryside. I was warm. And no one was asking me to do anything.

There are floor to ceiling windows in our living room and I could see very clearly that it was snowing again. But for that moment, with all pressure off, I could see its prettiness. It really was lacy. It really was like stars falling from the night sky. I didn’t yell, “Oh, hell, no!” I just burrowed into the blanket further, turned my eyes from the falling stars to the flickering flames, then burrowed further into my book.

A student this week started his pages with a quote by Ranulph Fiennes: “There is no such thing as bad weather, only inappropriate clothing.”

Heated throw. Fireplace ablaze. Purring cat, snoring dog. Sleeping family. Good book. I was dressed appropriately.

(Did I snarl at the snow the next morning, as I went out on two hours of sleep? Of course. But you know – this is a Moment, not a Constant.)

And yes, that helps. Despite. Anyway.

My home – and AllWriters’ – in the wintertime. (photo by Michael Giorgio)

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