Thursday, 1 December 2016

Cold And Snow

It's snowing today; not the real, icy kind of snow that will stay around, just another reminder from the Sky Gods that winter will soon be here in full force. The snow today is already disappearing. Too bad. I like the snow. I like the gentle covering it provides for the sharp edges of life, the sense of silence it gives to the world around me. I don't mind the cold so much. I must be a Northern spirit.

When I was a young teenager, nothing could have been further from this feeling. As a youngster, I hated the cold. It was a misery to me. I can still feel the chill of having to get up in the mornings, the house cold from the air outside, moisture from the snow and rain creeping into every part of me. Those mornings of chill misery started with having to go outside, further driving the icicles into me, so I could head into the dark, dank gloom of the basement where the ignominy called central heating lived in the devil's embodiment, a wood and coal furnace which perpetually resisted the process of being lit in the mornings, or, for that matter, of staying lit all evening.

That first heat of the day, getting the cold kindling and damp wood to burn, that was warmth. It was that same damp warmth which often flooded the kitchen and living room upstairs with wet smoke and the smell of half burned wood. Success with the hell-fire demon we called a furnace was achieved only with great battle and incredible patience.

I remember bringing wood in from the snow, in from the ice, wood encased in water frozen hard as a rock. I remember smashing at the woodpile, breaking logs loose from their winter binding, readying them to once again dampen the fire and drive more smoke upwards into our tiny house. While I was doing this task of misery, my siblings were enjoying a moment of warmth as my step-mother lit the oil stove in the kitchen. I was not the only one performing this task; my brothers will remember it as well. The odd thing is I don't really remember my Dad doing this, just us boys.

The cold of winter went from being miserable to enjoyable when I was able to see it from the warmth of the living room, from comfort looking through the front window out to the flakes settling slowly earthward. Once I had the option, not driven by the foul furnace necessity, I could sit, cuddled into a blanket, and see the beauty of it all. Then, slowly, I came, over time, to enjoy it both indoors and outdoors. The only thing, the thing which remains important right to this very moment, is having warmth as my settling point, to have a place pre-warmed, ready to take of the chill. And I don't have to light that God damned furnace anymore.

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