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Ten Things I (Keep Trying to Tell Myself I) Still Love about Winter Late into It February 25, 2011

Posted by indigobunting in Uncategorized.
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1. Cross-country skiing. The snow is falling heavy, we’re supposed to get 7–14 inches, so I may even ski today.

2. Snowshoeing. I always forget how much fun this is. Need to get those snowshoes on again soon. Maybe today.

3. Ice skating. It’s pathetic how few times I’ve made it to the rink this winter, and it closes (until a short summer season) at the end of next week. But I don’t get into town as much as I used to, and I’ve been having trouble getting psyched to exercise in the cold—even indoor cold. Still, when I go, it makes me ridiculously happy.

4. Common redpolls. These adorable birds show up at my feeder only at this time of year.

5. Soup. I have two gourmet neighbors who sell weekly offerings by the quart. One even delivers. I’m kind of in awe of them. And I’ve made some pretty good soups myself this season.

6. SmartWool socks. I splurged last holiday season and bought myself eight pair and even received a pair as a gift. That’s a big chunk of change. But I love my socks. (Another friend gave me a pair of cashmere socks—also yum!)

7. Ibex woolies. My silk long underwear was deteriorating rapidly with runs and holes, so I bought a pair of Ibex bottoms (I still like silk tops). Again, $60 seemed a bit steep, but these are fantastic and worth every penny.

8. The floor at yoga class. Radiant heat.

9. Martinis. I like them all year round.

10. Animal tracks. Except for mud season, the best viewing of where animals have been and which way they went is now.

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Soap February 20, 2011

Posted by indigobunting in Uncategorized.
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Last night the neighbors across the street hosted a potluck dinner for the immediate neighborhood—a gathering of half a dozen households. At some point in the evening, the hostess handed me a bar of goat’s-milk soap to take home.

I thanked her, brought the soap home, and added it to my stash.

I often receive lovely soaps as gifts, but alas, I use only liquid hand and body washes in my tiny bathroom.

I’ve tried to use bar soap, but there’s no space, and they simply melt to a puddly mush. I dream of a day when I put in an upstairs bathroom, complete with a clawfoot tub and its shelf that will manage, neatly, a bar of soap.

Meanwhile, the time for deaccession has come.

Earlier today I gathered the soaps from their hiding place in the closet and placed them in a basket. There are a dozenish, and half of it is goat’s milk: five bars and a five- (once six)-pack Zum Bar sampler that I am tempted to keep:

Zum Bar soaps.

but I did in fact use one of the samples, and the puddly-mush problem made me decidedly unhappy. So it should go too. There is a bar that claims to be French, another Australian, another Scottish. There is a clean-smelling bar from the Body Shop. There are glycerin-y bars bearing snooty hotel logos: the Sagamore and Mohonk Mountain House. There’s a Victoria’s Secret bar covered up in its own little box.

If you live near me and want some of this soap, please . . . let me know. I deliver. If you live elsewhere and want me to package it up and send it your way, send me your address.

This inability to throw out perfectly useable stuff is ingrained.

There is one bar I’m keeping: the homemade one with that little martini glass embedded inside. I hope it will last til I get my bathroom.

More Hearts February 16, 2011

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I am not a big fan of occasions that make people feel (a) excluded or (b) obligated to do a particular something at a particular time. Obviously, that means I’m not big into Valentine’s Day. I’m not really against it—I just don’t care. Maybe I would care more if I was alone, but when I was alone—well, I didn’t care then either.

That said, every year I receive a homemade Valentine from my octogenarian boyfriend, and every year I am thrilled to receive it. (This year he enclosed a couple of flicker feathers. Be still, my heart.)

I am back in Portland for a couple of days, and when I left the hotel to meet the gang for lunch, I saw them: the hearts. Large, single bright-red hearts printed on 8½ x 11 bright-white sheets of paper taped to every storefront and business window—not just one per business, but one per window. All over town. Everywhere. Hundreds of them. This was clearly not a cooperative business effort, but the act of Someone (or, more likely, Someones).

I learned that the Valentine Bandit—aka the Valentine Phantom—strikes every year. Every Valentine’s Day, the city wakes up to all these hearts. “The earliest known occurrence of this phenomena was 1976 in Portland, Maine,” states Wikipedia. Since then, the tradition has been taken up in Montpelier, Vermont (my state capital!), and Boulder, Colorado (home of my octogenarian boyfriend). Who knew? (Obviously, many, many people. Where have I been?)

I can’t explain it, but walking past all those hearts on Monday made me feel happy. It felt like equal-opportunity love, loving-everybody love. It felt unconditional, like the Someones just want to share the love and don’t expect anything in return. A gift.

Of course, Monday was also suddenly sunny, and temperatures rose to 50ish degrees. Maybe I would have felt the bliss even without the hearts.

A Change of Heart February 10, 2011

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As long as it’s not too cold (too cold for me to enjoy it, too cold for my house to function) or too warm (turning to sleet or ice, turning the snow too sticky to ski on), as long as we don’t have to drive anywhere, this weather makes me happy.

—Me, nine long days ago

Remember all that stay-in-the-moment-and-love-winter stuff I was spouting not long ago? My, how things have changed. It’s a good thing I knew enough to include the above caveats when being so cheerful about it all.

On Saturday, my house began to leak.

We first noticed a sound coming from the front door. The front door is beneath a flat, rubber-roofed porch. Water was dripping in at the top of the door.

While we were dealing with that, the kitchen ceiling began to leak in two places, then four. (The kitchen is below/next to the other flat rubber roof.)

Damn ice dams.

This happened at the end of a thunder and lightning storm—very unusual in winter. It was beautiful, in that I’d never seen lightning illuminate snow like that. The brightness was terrific.

We knew we were having icing problems and had just that day contacted a roofing/snow-ice removal guy, but he wasn’t coming til Tuesday.

So Tim went out on the flat roofs (yes, during a rain storm) to chop away at the ice and at least try to save the kitchen ceiling. We’d shoveled the snow off earlier in the week but hadn’t gotten all the ice.

Eventually the leaking from the ceiling stopped.

But an ice dam on one corner of the house meant a lot of internal bleeding. One corner of the living room ceiling and its wall is stained, as well as one wall of Tim’s studio. We are waiting for them to dry out.

By the time the roofer got here Tuesday, we’d already taken care of most of the things that could be done, and he got rid of the dam in that corner. He couldn’t remove the icicles from the roof because there’s too much chance that slate will come down with them. Sadly, there are no fixes for this problem until spring comes, when some (no doubt expensive) rerouting strategies can be applied to the roof. So we hold our collective breath.

Then last night, as Tim and I were attempting to relax in front of the tube, I kept hearing a sound behind the TV. Sure enough, a window was leaking again.

This morning I’ll see if it’s possible to hammer some ice off the sills on the second floor.

Did I mention that it was below 0°F when I got up this morning?

It’s starting to feel personal.

Foreshadowing February 4, 2011

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THEN: I reach for the Crayola box and search out the Pine Green crayon. Its dark, sweet come-hither coolness never fails to enchant me.

NOW: My skis and I break trail. Blow-down sprigs of pine and hemlock dot the way—the first tentative scratches of color on snowfall’s smooth white sheet.

Cross-quarter Snow Angel February 1, 2011

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We’re at the in-between time again. Here in the northern hemisphere it is Imbolc (“in the belly,” “ewe’s milk,” depending on whom you ask; if I see a ewe, I’ll ask her). It is Candlemas, it is the Feast of St. Brigid (Shout out to our own in St. Louis!). It is Groundhog Day. Will the groundhog see his shadow? Who cares? We’re midway between the winter solstice and the spring equinox, whether a shadow is cast or not. This cross-quarter, in all these traditions, is about people lookin’ for light.

And we’re getting more light. At 5:00 p.m., it’s not pitch black. Some days, there is a quality of light daring to step outside its boundaries—defiant teenaged light announcing fuck you, I’m going to be springlike for five minutes—until it is quickly smacked down again by its cold-hearted elders. But we catch a glimpse of it, and we know—or we think we know—that light like that can’t be suppressed forever.

It’s been a winter’s winter. There’s a good foot of snow on the ground, snow that has stayed. We’re having a storm now that’s predicted to last until Thursday and may dump 12–18 inches on us before it’s finished. As long as it’s not too cold (too cold for me to enjoy it, too cold for my house to function) or too warm (turning to sleet or ice, turning the snow too sticky to ski on), as long as we don’t have to drive anywhere, this weather makes me happy. It means I can go out and play. I can embrace winter as my consort, and we can be good partners until our natural parting.

Still, despite my obvious happiness at this good winter, if I allow myself to think about how much more winter is still to come, how much longer it is until equinox, how many more weeks of cold, damp weather we’ll have in Vermont after equinox, how long it will be until I see a green leaf . . . well, I simply can’t allow myself to think about that. I’m faring well, but a seasonal depression could strike at any moment. It is essential to stay in the here and now.

My monthly checklist on the refrigerator seems to be helping with that. Cue the annoying Christmas tune for January’s accomplishments:

Five x-country skis!
One snowshoe,
one ice skate,
one by-the-river swing,
and two pileateds feeding in a sumac tree.

(Three long snowy walks, too, but I was already pushing it there with the extra syllables.)

Saturday I walked to the post office in the snow. Roy was there. “Indigo, are you out making snow angels?” he asked.

“No, but I’m going skiing.”

“That must be how you keep your girlish figure.”

Those gay guys. Summer or winter, they always know what to say.

 

A happy cross-quarter to all of you, especially that pagan gay guy Craig, and here’s hoping Mali isn’t too sad at her diminishing light. We promise to give it a good home for awhile.