Posted tagged ‘winter’

“Sweet are the thoughts that savour of content, The quiet mind is richer than a crown…”

March 25, 2017

It rained last night leaving today cloudy and dark. It’s warmer than it has been. All my chores and errands got finished, scratched out. Today is a stay at home day. Right now Boris Karloff as The Mummy is on TV. I have seen this movie several times, but that doesn’t ever matter. A propeller plane circles the world, the eerie music starts, and we see Egypt and the desert. We’re at a dig: it’s 1931, and the mummified remains of Imhotep, who had been buried alive, have just been found. A warning on the top of the chest buried with the mummy warns that whoever opens the chest will die. Despite the warning the chest is opened, the sacred words are said and the mummy comes back to life. There’s more but not here.

In winter, cloudy days sometimes make me feel subdued, and, after several in a row, even melancholic while other cloudy days, like today, make me feel cozy in my warm house. Life doesn’t get much better than being in my comfy clothes and watching one of my favorites, a black and white science fiction movie from the 30’s. I’m even having Chinese for lunch. It’s one of those perfect days.

When I was in Ghana, I lived alone for the first time. My house, one side of a duplex, was brand new and on school grounds right by the back gate, which I had to climb a few times as the watchman chose not to hear me yelling for the gate to be opened. (Sorry for the digression. Back to the story.) I was really lonely the first few months. I hated the quiet of my house. I played music especially at night to ward off the silence, but, by Christmas, I relished the night-time quiet because every day was busy and filled with sounds. In the morning it was the swishing of the hand- held brooms as the students cleaned the compound. After that, I could hear buckets being filled with water for bathing and the conversations of my students in a variety of languages. From that morning time on, the day was only quiet after the students had lights out.

It is always a marvel to me that life in Ghana took on a routine, became every day. Here I was living on a school compound in Bolgatanga. It was eggs and toast and coffee, horrible coffee, for breakfast, fruit for lunch and chicken or beef with a sauce and yams on the side, sometimes fried but mostly mashed, for dinner. I went to the market every third day and filled my basket with vegetables and fruit. The amazement of living in Africa was replaced by familiarity. It was home.

I think the memory of living in Ghana surfaces on days like today. I recognize the comfort in the quiet I felt then and I’m feeling now. It is contentment!

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“Winter dressing is all about having chic outerwear.”

March 16, 2017

Last night I was freezing though I was only outside for about 5 minutes. It was Gracie’s last trip before bed. She sniffed the air, checked out a couple of sounds and walked around outside the fence. She didn’t seem at all inclined to do her duty. I begged. She ignored me. I begged again. She sniffed the ground, but that was it, no squatting. It was the end for me. I brought her inside. We went to bed. She slept the whole night, but I got up once.

When I was a kid, my room was upstairs on the left. The bathroom was also on the left. The stairs were a quick right turn from my room. In the small hallway outside my door was the dirty clothes hamper and the linen closet recessed in the wall. When I was 10, I walked out of my room and turned right. I fell down the stairs. You’d think the sound of me falling would wake someone up. It didn’t. Either I fell quietly or my family slept like the dead. That is an important memory for me, a milestone of sorts. It was my first fall down stairs, the first of many.

Yesterday we didn’t go to the dump. It was because of the weather. The dump is generally cold, and if it is a windy day, like yesterday, the dump is as cold as Siberian steppes. The wind whips and freezes you to the bone. This morning I brought the trash to the car. I decided to bite the bullet and go despite the cold, 33˚ which will be the high today.

My front yard is still covered in branches from the huge pine tree branch which fell on the lawn. The small stones from my front parking space are on the street and in the garden. They were moved around by the plow. My back yard has several different size branches lying where they fell during this winter. One skinny pine tree breathed its last. Another leans and its future is doubtful. Winter is harsh.

“The earth tucked herself in for the year with winter’s cold, white scarf of snow.”

March 10, 2017

When I woke up this morning, I ran to the window. It was snowing though the ground didn’t look as if the snow had started in the wee hours when they predicted it would. The brick walk in front of my house and the street were still uncovered. They were wet. The deck stairs had a bit of snow, but it was easy going for Gracie and me. She ran into the yard. I swear she was smiling. She loves the yard. I checked the news: no school. It was a decision based on what might be not what was. They were right. In the nearly three hours I have been awake, the snow on the tree branches has more than doubled in height and the street is starting to disappear. I keep looking. I am drawn to the window by the quietly falling flakes and the beauty of the snow.

In the two years I was in Ghana, I never missed snow though on the hottest of days I did miss winter. I missed seeing my breath and bundling in clothes to ward off the cold. I missed the comfort of a warm house on a snowy day. Only during the night and the early mornings at the beginning of the harmattan, in December, did I ever feel cold. It was wonderful to have my windows open to the cold and to snuggle under a wool blanket to stay warm. It was in the 70’s on those nights. I still have my wool blanket.

Gracie probably has arthritis in her left back leg. She is now on three new medicines. The pain med will last two weeks while the other two are for every day and should improve her overall leg joint movement.

When I was a kid, Duke, our dog, never had regular vet visits. He did get a rabies shot as it was required but the town used to give them, not the vet’s. The only other time I remember him going to the vets was when he was old and was mauled by a dog down the street. His neck was torn open. My dad said Duke would be fine taking care of it himself. My mother said nothing. My dad, who was working in Maine until we could move, only came home for weekends. While he was gone, my mother sneaked the dog to the vets who took care of the neck and gave him antibiotics. By the time my dad got home, Duke’s neck was looking better and was healing. My dad told my mother,”I told you so.”My mother, the wisest woman I knew, said nothing.

“Everything is ceremony in the wild garden of childhood.”

March 3, 2017

Winter dropped by last night to remind us not to get giddy about spring. It will have to be patient, to wait its turn. I saw daffodil buds yesterday in my garden. They are still all green but soon enough they’ll flower. I figure winter is beginning to feel rushed.

The swamp around now would still have ice as the water wasn’t very deep. The remaining ice was mostly in the back on the shaded channels which ran between trees and what we called islands. We’d go as far back as we could. In some places we’d walk on the ice and stoop under the trees while in other places we’d have to go on all fours. We explored in the summer too but then we risked getting wet as we had to jump from island to island.

When I was a kid, we were explorers. We walked or rode our bikes all over town. We had favorite places like the field where the two horses grazed, the tracks which both ended and kept going, the zoo, and the dairy farm. I never got tired of trying the catch the horses, but I’m glad I didn’t. I watched the cows.

Growing up when I did was a gift beyond measure. It meant summers of riding my bike, walking all over town or sleeping outside. We were never afraid. Our mothers had taught us to refuse anything a stranger offered so they figured we were safe enough. They were right. I don’t even remember any strangers.

The first time I went to the movie theater at night was an event. I was 10. The movie was a fund-raiser for my girl scout troop. I remember walking around wearing my uniform and feeling important. My parents bought tickets as did most of the other parents. I don’t even remember what the movie was. I just remember feeling older as if I’d just passed a milestone.

Today is cold, 34˚. It is a sunny day which belies the cold. Tonight the low will be 17˚.

“The worst thing about being a tourist is having other tourists recognize you as a tourist.”

March 2, 2017

The last few days Mother Nature has played with our heads. It has been spring warm. Even with yesterday’s rain, it was warm. Today is another warmish day with bright sun and a daytime temperature in the mid-50’s, but I’m not deceived. Mother Nature is still playing us and our weariness with winter. Tonight she’s dropping winter right back at us. It will be in the mid-20’s.

Yesterday I went to Hyannis for a doctor’s appointment. Ordinarily I would shop after my appointment but I decided, instead, to meander home on Route 28, the garish road filled on both sides by motels, restaurants, miniature golf courses and souvenir shops. Most of them are seasonal so they’re closed. Traffic was light. In the summer, that road is sometimes bumper to bumper as cars go slowly so people can gawk. The only places open yesterday were regular businesses and some of the restaurants. I saw some construction and was able to remember what used to be. One old house is gone, replaced by a park. My friend’s grandmother’s cottages are long gone, replaced by a hotel. They were the old time cottages, individual with a small porch and one outside metal chair. I helped paint them a couple of times. Each one had a view of the ocean. A couple of restaurants used to be hangouts when I was in high school. Jerry’s was prime. It is still there and still serves fried seafood, hot dogs, and hamburgers. The parking lot was always filled. Further up was the A&W with car service. I still miss that one. The building is there but it is a roast beef sandwich spot. The biggest loss was the drive-in. It was sold because it was prime land right next to the water. I don’t know who bought it but nothing has ever been done with that land. They could have left the drive-in.

I know things change. I expect it. It is nostalgic as I grow older. What used to be is important to remember. It is part of my story.

“Once you have a wonderful dog, life without one, is a life diminished.”

February 2, 2017

Gracie news is first. Yesterday morning around 5 she stood up on the bed and that movement woke me. All of a sudden I saw Gracie start to fall over so I grabbed her before she fell. She then collapsed on the bed. I held her around the neck and talked to her as her eyes were wide in fear. I then helped her stand up. She did but just stood not moving then threw up. I cleaned the bed and tried to get her off of it, but because my bed is an old one and quite high, she wouldn’t get off it. I finally lifted all 68 pounds of her to the floor. She walked to the stairs but wouldn’t go down. I went in front of her and she went down one step at a time. I decided to take her right away to C.A.R.E., the emergency vets. We got there around 5:30 and waited a bit. Finally we went into the treatment room. The vet listened to what had happened then took her for some tests. They were all fine except Gracie was a bit dehydrated. She has a heart flutter but is on meds for that. The decision was to leave her overnight so she could be rehydrated and given some X-rays. The vet called in the afternoon and Gracie was doing well, no aftereffects. I called this morning and she is staying there until the afternoon when she is going to have a cardiac echo. My poor baby! I just hope everything is okay.

My house feels cold and is quiet.

Punxsutawney Phil has predicted six more weeks of winter. It is cold today so he might just be right, but that would unusual. Poor Phil is correct only 39% of the time, but considering the three coldest months of the year are December, January and February, this might be one of those times.

The sun is shining with the sharpness of a winter’s day. The breeze is slight. I’m hanging around the all day house though I have stuff I need to do including going to the dump, but I’ll save that for Gracie and me tomorrow. She’ll love it.

“I couldn’t shed the cold; it clung to every bit of me.”

January 31, 2017

I walked out of the house to get the papers and was totally taken aback at how cold it was. It was sunny then but the sun was just a backdrop providing some light but no heat. Since then the sun has been replaced by whitish clouds. Snow will be coming later but only an inch or two. I’m staying home today where I’ll be warm and comfortable.

When I was a kid, winter usually meant staying inside after school. I’d do my homework and then watch TV. The only exercise I had was walking to and from school. We, the four of us, must have driven my mother crazy. My brother and I would tease our younger sisters. He and I would sit on the couch on each side of one sister and point at her. That drove her crazy and she’d yell to my mother about us. We’d yell back and say we weren’t even touching her, but my mother knew. She’d tell us to stop.

I didn’t my bike out much in the winter. Mostly I walked everywhere. Some Saturdays I’d ride with my father when he did his errands. My favorite stop was at the Chinaman’s as everyone in town called it. The shop was where my dad left his white shirts each week to be cleaned. Behind the counter on shelves were bundles of cleaned shirts wrapped in brown paper tied with string. The laundry was always steamy from the big ironing machine by the window. I used to watch the Chinaman iron.

On Sunday, if I was up and dressed early enough I could ride with my father to church. He was an usher at the eight o’clock mass. He’d give me a dime to put in the basket. I always sat in a pew where he collected the money. The ushers never sat. They just stood in the back entryway and talked in whispers until it was time for the money offerings.

One of the best parts of being retired is staying home on the coldest of days, a day like to day.