crack the windows
i stood there trying to brush my teeth, but something caught my eye. something bright and beautiful and liquid. it was the morning slant of light, pouring through the shutter slats. the morning slant of late winter’s light. the light on the cusp of the equinox, when each day the sun, more pure it seems than the day before, inches higher in the sky.
the light in late winter is arresting. it stopped me, all right. pulled me to the shutters, where i couldn’t help but pull them back. i felt hungry, suddenly, for the light. the light so white, so rich, so dense, it filled my every pallid pore. i wanted to drink it, to bathe in it, to let it spill all over my wintry leather shell.
so i did the only sensible thing: i cracked open the window. i let in light. i let in air. the air, chilly once again, did not quite match the light. these are tricky days, when air and light do shifting tango. just the other day, in sync. now, bright but chilly.
but still, once the window opened, i bristled at the brisk cold air. a fine bristle. a healthy bristle.
and smelling real fresh air, as opposed to the stale stuff of winter, i left the window open. let the house exhale. a big long puff of winter air—the air of smoldering logs and simmering soups, the air of baking bread and barking coughs—i let it out.
i let in air of spring arriving.
i think of big-bosomed nurses, long ago. of nurses in white starched caps. with ample arms. shoving open windows in the depths of winter. long ago, clean air, clearing air, had much to do with sanitation. shooshing out the germs. as if the germs would follow rules. follow nurses’ orders.
i tried, lamely, to do the same. i have no bosom, none to speak of. my arms aren’t ample. hardly. but still i ordered out the germs.
and in the next breath, i wiggled finger, coaxing fresh air to come in. to swirl around. to fill the rooms. to fill my lungs.
how often do we think of air? usually only when it chokes us. sometimes, when it takes our breath away. or when it cleanses.
which is what it did to me, my house.
my house is breathing in and out. my house, i hope, is getting pure. what a power, so invisible. the air, i think, is just like God. take a breath. a deep one. fill your lungs.
Funny that you are writing about this as I heard just this morning from my little one about your light-air tango. As I trotted off to take her to school, fetching in my nightshirt, cape thrown over it wearing too-small clogs that were my older daughter’s when she was 11 or so, I mentioned in the car that I dislike the chill-to-the-bone air. My nine-year-old said that it was confusing as the light looked so warm and so she expected something different.Yes, you are right, houses need to breathe. I am vexed by this right ow as the former owners of our house never opened the windows and so I can’t.
Just this morning, standing in the kitchen on the phone, looking out the sliding glass doors at the mountains, I stepped out the door in my PJs and bare feet to do a temp check. My world was bathed in northern Arizona sun. Just like you wrote, “The air, chilly once again, did not quite match the light.” But when I breathe it in, I’m ready for my walk!