"Not much of a winter so far."
"Haven't even put the plow on yet."
"We'll probably pay for it later."
I know it has been mild this winter. Our puritan DNA tells us that we'll suffer for this relatively merciful climate. For me, though, it's still winter with all the cringing, arm-wrapping, stove-swearing-at rituals that go with it. One reason is that I can hear squirrels scratching their haunches through the walls of my rental home. I can hear squirrels' thoughts these walls are so thin. Wood and oil turn to heat that vanishes before doorknobs or room corners really get warm. I took it for granted all those years of living on Matinicus with its blasting cold winds, but having a snug house where, if it was warm in the middle of the room, it was also warm at the edges.
The cold wears me down, wears down my limited supply of cheery winter patience. Don't get me wrong. I love nothing better than heading outdoors for work or play on a sunny winter day. Even a cloudy winter day. The problem is that as much as I can work or play outside in winter just fine, I get fatigued when trying to stay warm indoors. I get frustrated with stoves that just barely melt an ice cube when going full out, or doors that need a big pillow flumped in front of their lower edges or vehicles that get tolerably warm about when I arrive wherever I was headed. It gets aggravating by repetition and tests my psychological endurance.
About the time February seems old though it's only into single digits on the calendar, I start having fuzzy dreams of the Caribbean, the Azores, Hawaii. Last year's jaunt to St. Croix notwithstanding, my travels are of the imaginary variety. Wikipedia, google earth, atlases, facebook friends' photo albums all open before me with green foliage, blue water and smiling faces.
Back home from the weekend afternoon travels by Sunday night, I pack the stove and let the kids sleep in the den instead of in their big bedroom; the one that probably seems fabulous when central heat is not needed.
Going to my happy place, simulating soft, tropical air by wearing a fleece hoody to bed. Toes in the sand are courtesy of boot socks.