Winter gave us another lashing early this week.
The weather had turned sullen early on Sunday with a mizzle of rain and dark skies.
I built a fire downstairs late in the afternoon and happily brought out sewing projects.
Isolated there from outdoor sights and sounds I was unpleasantly surprised to discover after dark, that cold rain was pelting down and almost immediately freezing.
J. went in to bed at 11 and I followed a few minutes later, only to decide that sleep would be impossible while the wind howled and lashed sleet against the north wall of the little house.
I bundled into my robe and trudged out to read near the living room fire--where the brunt of the storm was less audible.
I chose not to look outside in the direction of the yard light before returning to bed at a bit after one.
The wind was still a presence but the sound of sleet pelting the windows was less.
Murky daylight brooded over a frozen world.
Snow was falling, thick and wet, quickly smothering a layer of ice which covered the gravel of the drive.
Tiny icicles hung from every twig.
Our local online 'magazine' carried the school closings for every county around. Meetings were cancelled, county offices closed, even the area restaurants and a number of businesses posted as closed.
The road below the house was a formidable ribbon of ice.
The boy cats insisted on going out.
Their paws sunk through the wet snow encountering the icy crust beneath.
The cats asked to come in, shook cold paws, demanded to be turned out again.
It took several forays before they realized that 'out' wasn't at all pleasant.
I put on my boots, wrapped myself in layers of clothes, crunched cautiously over the frozen yard.
J. built a fire in the shop, worked on one of his tractors.
I made a fire downstairs thinking to continue with my sewing, but instead pulled a chair close to the stove, pulled out a favorite book.
The cats drifted downstairs, curled up on the daybed, sprawled on the hearthrug.
Late in the day I took my camera out hoping to capture some of the icicles.
I didn't stay out in the cold to experiment with different settings and was disappointed in my photos.
The seed balls still clinging to the sweet gum tree were encased in ice.
On Monday night our Amish neighbor, Joe, called Jim to say that he was short of firewood and could Jim haul in a bundle of slabs from the mill.
Joe's requests for a delivery of hay or wood always seem to be made when he is on the verge of running out and with the bland assumption that J. can immediately oblige.
Normal traffic had not resumed on Tuesday morning when J. hooked onto the trailer and with the old Dodge, Snort'n Nort'n, in 4 wheel drive, began the cautious crawl out to the main road and then onto the winding side road that crosses a narrow bridge at a sharp right angle to lead into the Amish run sawmill.
As the truck lurched over frozen ruts and the trailer bounced along behind, I wondered why I had chosen to go along for the ride.
Jim braked cautiously to a crawl to allow a flock of wild turkeys to skud across the road--a few lifted into clumsy flight before landing amongst the bare trees and scurrying up into the woods.
The mill yard was a morass of frozen snow and ice with churned up mud underneath.
The young man driving the front-end loader wallowed off toward the bundles of dry slabs lined up at the far edge of the yard.
The loader floundered, halted at the edge of a seemingly bottomless puddle.
J. waved the driver toward the nearer bundles of 'green' slabs--not the best burning wood, but more safely accessible.
With the bundle lashed in place on the trailer we began the lurching journey back to the main road.
Coming in from the west, the turning onto our road is awkward at the best of times.
It is a tribute to J.'s driving skills that the truck made the turn and the trailer followed without sliding clear across to the ditch!
We chugged along, past M. and G.'s house, across the bridge, through the shaded stretch. At the bend by the abandoned house, an Amish buggy was pulled to the side of the road.
J. braked to a careful stop, put down the window.
The young Amish man holding his horse's head, grinned at Jim, showing a row of teeth in need of repairs.
'Just resting the horse,' he assured us. 'Its hard pulling in the snow.'
His wife, holding the reins, smiled shyly from the buggy seat. In the dimness of the buggy interior I glimpsed the children's faces--several little girls in black bonnets, younger children bundled in blankets.
We wondered what need could be so urgent to take them out on such a nasty day.
It was slow going, past our own house and then up hill and down to Yoder's.
Chickens ran squawking out of the way as we pulled in.
The Yoder boys converged on the truck. No school at the Amish schoolhouse and the children home for
Late on Tuesday afternoon the sun emerged, casting shadows on the grainy snow.
I opened the sliding door and teetered on the sill, focusing on the dooryard, criss-crossed with the prints of our boots and the cats' paws.
The sun glittered on icy branches.
I took a sturdy metal spatula and scraped snow from the step, hoping to please the housebound cats with a tiny cleared space where they could sit and contemplate the inhospitable yard.
The day ended, cold and still, with a sense of being held in winter's icy grasp.
I tidied the kitchen after supper, headed for my rocking chair with a book, too lethargic to build a fire downstairs and continue my sewing.
When I rose to make a mug of tea, my chair in the snug corner was quickly taken over.
Another day, Wednesday, has drawn to a close. Enough sunshine to turn the top layer of snow to a mushy slop--another night cold enough to solidify it to crunchy ice.
The tentative daffodils are invisible under their chill white blanket.
Birds forage for seeds and scraps hidden under the crust.
We've turned the page of the calendar to March.
We wait now for the hope of springtime to become a reality.