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Tag: arctic cold

when chill, er, arctic winds blow…

with all its might that mercury is push-push-pushing, trying with every ounce of january muscle to get up to where the one meets the zero, calls itself a brisk ten above.

even the rhododendron leaves, just outside my window, are curled tight into a rod, curled as if their life depends upon it, which in fact it does.

the feathered traffic at the feeder is slow to none, and, mostly, sparrow shiver in the pines. i think they’d like to call for carry-in, or better yet delivery. but the lines, i fear, are iced.

the morning when the world is frozen is a morning when you’d prefer, perhaps, to catch the nearest plane to tahiti. but, dang, that would entail walking to the curb–at least–to catch the taxicab.

so instead, why not do what i love best, and make yourself a list. a list is a beautiful thing. a romantic thing. you sketch your hopes and dreams. tick them off in little snippets. barely even have to finish your thought. you know what you mean. it’s you, for cryin’ out loud, making that there list.

so, then, with no ado–it’s too cold for adoing–here is the way i’d like to spend a ch-ch-chilly day at the end of a long, long, long, long week:

*crank the brand-new tunes my manchild made for me, the soundtrack, perhaps, from “once,” the movie a dear old friend told me months ago would inspire me. he was right. and now i can’t stop mumbling with all the words, my own odd version of pretending i too can sing along. which i can’t. just ask my boys. even the cat took to under the bed.

*fill the troughs, pour hot water into bowls for all the critters. there is nothing so satisfying–for this faux farmer girl–as making sure that all God’s creatures are duly fed and watered. i’d distribute little blankets if i could, but instead i put out extra christmas trees so they could harbor in the branches. more real estate, the better for those birds, way i figure it.

*grab the mcdonald’s coupon books, and drive to where it’s dark and even colder. pass out books to every hungry hand that reaches your direction. give the folks on lower wacker drive a place, and means, for getting in and out from this coldest cold. God bless my mama who gave me those books for just this purpose. God bless the soul who inspired her, whose story we found out only when he died, how he spent his winters doling out hundreds of dollars in vouchers for a hamburger and fries, and a hot, hot coffee that bought a seat where heat was all but guaranteed.

*once back home, grind the beans and get your own hot coffee going. stoke the steel-cut oats, while you’re at it, too. i’ve got the grandest formula these days: scottish steel-cut oats, 1/4 cup; water, 1 cup; sprinkle of salt (don’t ask me why, all i know is it works); flaxseed, 2 tsps.; sprinkling organic raisins, cranberries, apricot, chopped; 1 walnut, 1 almond, chopped; dry milk, 1/3 cup; cinnamon, a good stiff shake or three. now, get the water and the salt a bubblin’, stir and dump the oats, then all the rest. let it simmer half an hour. dump it in your favorite bowl (mine is red with fat white stripe), grab a porridge spoon (mine is wooden, and it sailed in from old vermont). take a seat at the kitchen table, staring out at birds, who might be staring back at you. invite them in, for heaven’s sake. they might love the porridge.

*whisper benediction for the oats, the birds, and all the souls far colder than you have ever been. pray to God that warmth blows in, deep and boldly to their souls. don’t let them die, God, frozen to the city’s underbelly.

*and, besides all that, the best idea for how i’d like to spend an arctic day is invite a house full of folks i love. cook all day the day before, and fill the vases with blooms galore. stack the logs to make a fire. putter here and there, making it a house that shines, and shouts: warmth dwells here. come in, come in. leave your cares outside, where chill winds won’t stop blowing.

peace i wish you at the end of this long week. and warm toes besides.

do you like lists as much as i do? what would you do on a chilly arctic day when the poor old mercury makes it up to 10, then dwindles back to less than zero?

hunker down

when the little man who lives in the radio next to your bed rouses you from your slumber with the rooster-squawking news that your world, it is abysmally freezing, that there’s nothing between zero and you but a scant shallow degree or two,well then there’s nothing to do but hunker down.

since pulling up the covers and six months’ hibernation is not an option for the homo sapien species, you do the right-thinking thing: you grab all the clothes from your closet, you pile them on, then you waddle down the stairs, the abominable mother.

deep inside you this mad cave-woman thing is stirring you on: you want to grab all your loved ones, even the birds and the squirrels and that ol’ fat raccoon, and you want to haul everyone and everything to the back of the cave where you, in a cave era gender leap, will rub some sticks, start a fire and keep flesh, feather and fur all warm and all toasty.

but, alas, there’s no cave and you’re not good with sticks, so instead you start fueling your flock for the day.

in the deep arctic cold, you step into the purplish light of pre-dawn, armed with your coffee can brimming with seed. you pour seed for the cardinals, seed for the sparrows. you fill water for everyone, scatter bread, scatter popcorn for squirrels.

back in the house, you repeat the routine for the little ones sleeping up over your head. it’s oatmeal for the sapiens, oatmeal studded with every imaginable fruit on the shelf. you are filling their tanks for long walks to the train, to the bus, to the playground. calorie-packing, the arctic climbers call it, and you call it the same, as you pour almonds and wheat germ and fat juicy apricots into the porridge. if you invest oatmeal with amulet powers on a 30-degree day, you should see what you do when the digits come only one at a time.

the whole day will unfold with similar bone-chilling caution. all errands are nixed, unless earth-shatteringly essential. no child of yours shall be dawdling at bus stops. each being who steps out of your house will be so wrapped in cloth, it’ll be nearly impossible to move even a muscle. but you’ll insist.

and then you’ll get on with the business of stoking their furnaces. you’ll rub your numb fingers, yank supplies off the shelves. it’s visions of soup, bread and cookies, all steamy and yummy, all straight from the oven, that swirl in your head.

so pull up your long johns, fasten your ear muffs. we’ve a cold day ahead, arctic winds to contend with. remember the birds. crank your crotchety ovens. it’s hot cookies for all, and for all a good day.