Winter Wanderings

Blogger’s Note: Haven’t blogged so much lately. Crazy busy, plus lots of little things to say, but rarely a post-worth. So how ’bout a collection of random bits from the season so far?

It’s been cold this winter. At least, it’s felt that way to me. I can just about tell the temperature by the feel of my whiskersicles. Temps fall into the single digits; I get ice forming in my goatee. Below zero, and they form in my mustache, too — provided my nostrils don’t stick shut first, or the wind doesn’t require me to suck wind in gulping gasps between gusts or cover my face.

One morning last year, it was cold enough that my facial hair simply went white, less condensed and frozen water droplets than flat-out frost. My reflection in the window of Morrill Hall’s side door gave me a glimpse of a white-bearded future. Nothing that bad yet this year.

* * * * *

Boomer’s doing better this winter than last, but it’s hard. Some nights he wants to sleep in his kennel; some nights, in the garage. We bought the old boy a dog bed for the garage, but he lays on the hard floor instead, using the bed like a pillow for his chin.

His preference for the kennel versus the garage doesn’t correspond to temperature. The coldest night in recent weeks, he returned to his kennel in the evening, and slept like a stone all night and well into the morning. When he hadn’t emerged from his house by mid-morning, I went out to check, bracing for the worst. I could see him curled in his house. The thick hair on his back was coated in frost, and I couldn’t see him breathing … no, wait! One long sighing breath, in and out, then nothing for five seconds or so, then another.

A couple hours later, he was awake, barking at the house for a biscuit and some warm water.

* * * * *

In the run-up to Christmas (and the Winter Break on campus), it was lovely to leave Morrill at the end of the day, and see snow swirling about the columns of Northrop Auditorium. My path to the parking ramp took me across a plaza adorned with hardy little maples strung with white lights, and the nights were so silent.

A block further, you’d begin to hear what sounded like music. Another half block, and the music was clearly holiday in nature. Then it came into view: the Beta house, I think, strung with lights that flashed on and off like keys of a great and colorful piano, in time with the rhythm and melody of familiar holiday instrumentals, which were being piped to all and sundry through loudspeakers.

My first reaction was mild annoyance; I’d been enjoying the silence. But the spectacle was well done, and now, with the students gone and the lights hanging dim; the house, silent, it doesn’t seem so bad at all.

* * * * *

The post-holiday clean-up has been slow, in part because the kids seem to be getting sick in circles. Maybe this weekend we can regain our home. At least the lights are mostly down, and the sweets, mostly gone. I still feel overstuffed somehow.

* * * * *

The moon seems so far off in winter, a bare bulb in a high, lonely window. I remember an old farmhouse set back from the road near where I grew up. The brush encroached on the two-track driveway, and the grass grew high around the foundation. I never saw a vehicle, a puff of smoke from the chimney, or a living soul there in all my years … but once I saw a light in the upstairs window. It seemed so cold that evening, too.

* * * * *

Blogger’s Addendum: When I posted this initially, that last two lines read, “I never saw a vehicle, a puff of smoke from the chimney, or a living soul there in all my years … but once I was a light in the upstairs window. It seemed so cold that evening, too.” That was a typo — I meant “saw” — but metaphorically, it worked that way, too.

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