Monday, January 6, 2014

The Cold Weather Journal, Day One

Cat tracks on the front walk.

Before heading to bed in the wee hours of the morning, I warmed two small rice 'pillows' to tuck under the covers--one at my feet and one for the achy place in my back. The cats really appreciate the warm lump at the end of the bed and jostle each other to be there--heavy slumbering weights. 
I woke at 4 to the usual disturbance of a restless boy cat. Rising up in bed I declared sternly, "Stop that!" Surprisingly the ruckus subsided, and after noticing the rise and fall of the wind outside I was asleep again until first light shone through the shutters at 6:30.
I opened the living room curtains and looked upon a sparkling white landscape.
I doubt more than an inch of snow had fallen, but it had been swirled and scoured and sculpted by the
 north wind.
There was a heap of glowing coals in the fireplace stove, ready to be stirred into life.
I dressed in haphazard layers, standing in front of the fire, then measured coffee, opened the door into the carport.  It was amusing to see the boy cats poised for their usual tumbling run out the door, hesitating as they felt the sting of cold air.
I dished out cat food, brought in more wood.
I fortified myself with a mug of coffee and two molasses cookies, enjoying the heat of the mug clasped in both hands.
I had to rummage in the basement closet to locate my fleece-lined boots, unworn for several years. I draped my insulated 'bibs' near the fireplace to warm. Swaddled in heavy clothing I trudged to the barn.
I got Pebbles' detested pill down her, hidden in a carrot, greeted the plump barn cats and poured kibble into their bowl. 
My face ached with the cold.
Back in the house to wind a soft scarf around my face, then out to pour hot water on the contents of the horse water tub and smash the hard crust of ice. 
In Wyoming we used a submersible electric heater in the horses' tub. Here it hasn't been necessary.

The overnight wind brought down a predictable strewing of slender maple branches.
I gathered those into my fire-starting pile, noted that the upper drive is now dotted with seed balls dashed from the sweet gum tree.
Downstairs to build a fire. 
Clean litter boxes.
Walk to the mailbox, hunkered into my warm clothes, not liking the bite of the wind.
Notice the meandering pawprints of cats in the snow. 
The small splayed footprints of an opossum are visible, the long ratty tail dragged behind, maybe the same one who dashed away from the compost pile when I took out eggshells and lemon rinds as the snow began last evening.
It has been a day interrupted by phone calls.
People are kind, offering help if I should need it to cope with the weather, or calling because I might be lonely on my own for a few days.
I yield gracefully to conversation--after all, my only commitment today  is to keep the house warm and tend the animals.
Communication is so easy now, so different from times past when a family might feel isolated and forlorn during a run of bad weather.

Accomplishments of this long cold Monday nearly too scant to list: the vacuum cleaner trundled through the rooms, a chicken roasted, a letter begun. 

In the barn, a snug cubby made for Sadie and Sally--a wad of hay pushed into a wire coop and covered with a ragged sheepskin rug. On top another layer of hay and a heavy old scatter rug draped over all. 
I try to demonstrate the warm snuggery to the calicoes--they are unimpressed, but they may seek out this improvised shelter during the cold night.
They are drawn to the small stall-like space a step up from the main barn floor. The stairs to the loft are here and the splintery shelves which hold horse paraphenalia. Rounded depressions show where the cats have made beds in the loose hay which Pebbles throws about.

Sundown was later tonight ,these few weeks past the solstice; it was still half light at 5 PM, a rosy stain in the sky reflecting onto the frozen white fields.
The night will be cold, around zero F.
I must keep the downstairs fire stoked, leaving open the door which leads into the back hallway where water pipes are concentrated.
Accuweather forecast for Tuesday 'mostly sunny and frigid.'
By Wednesday the temperatures will begin a slow climb to something more 'normal' for January in south-central Kentucky.

Perhaps tomorrow along with tending fires I will read or sew.
This is not the listless sense of hibernation which seized me last month.
This span of frozen weather is about digging in, bolstering my defenses.  It is fortification and graceful survival!


  1. Keep warm and don't send that weather this way. Nothing but mild-and-wild weather here so far this winter.

  2. This span of frozen weather is about digging in, bolstering my defenses. It is fortification and graceful survival!

    Just like the settlers of old. I do enjoy reading about your life, so different from my own. Keep warm and enjoy your quiet days.

  3. Graceful survival ~ I like that.

    It is 6:04 a.m. here in s.e. FL, 48 degrees and feels like it is 39. I didn't bring anything in or cover anything up, so I hope all survived out in the gardens. It is cozy here inside, no heater, only lights.Stove was on for coffee.

    Hope you have a lovely indoor day ~ Love and hugs ~ FlowerLady

  4. Your ways of surviving and keeping your animals safe are sound and appropriate for this very cold weather we're having. Nice post.

  5. keep warm Sharon, lovely post, i was there with you and the moggies

    Leanne x