"Is it too windy for my morning walk?" I texted J from the warm, luscious confines of our comforter, knowing he'd already biked to the bus stop and had felt the weather outside this morning at 6:45 AM.
This little text would save me the trouble of dressing for my AM excursion, only to find it too frigid and windy to be outdoors at such an hour.
He had not been excited to get up this morning, groaning as he slid out from beneath the warm covers of our bed, onto the freezing floor of our old house to dress, grab his mug of freshly brewed coffee and dodge our two maine coon kitties yowling for their breakfast, to slip out the door and be carted to work by a large, belching, rumbling dragon of a public transit system.
"It's chilly but not too bad, hurry, the sun is just now coming up :-)," was the doodle-do reply to my cell.
How I love a good sunrise...
Scooting out of the warm spot he'd left, I quickly leapt out of bed, unceremoniously dislodging our two giant cats, who blinked their disapproval as they were rolled around by my antics. Yanking on jeans and a thermal, I grabbed coffee for myself, my green puffer and headed outside.
The first thought I had as the crisp, cold air caused my eyes to tear, was that it smelled like New England this morning.
That, my friends, is how this blog was born today. For some reason, upon returning from my morning constitutional, I decided that I should start a composition project for myself. A reason to write; something I love to do, but had told myself recently, "I just don't have the time all the time to do it!"
Well, no more excuses.
Whether it was the delicious home-y wood-smoke smell snapping at my nose as it floated through the frost-laden trees, or the fact that I could see my breath and feel it instantly freeze and melt on my eyelashes, inspiration struck, and so I've begun.
Perhaps someone will read this eventually. Perhaps not. All I know, is that I'm writing again, and it feels LOVELY!
My intention was to write about how much I missed New England this morning.... though I seem to remember frequently waiting for the bus in VT as a child and not thoroughly enjoying being outside in the windy, biting cold.
I remember the first time that I got to have a snow-day in 4th grade. My family had just moved to New England. Dad and I had waited for 45 minutes, freezing our sweet-little-patooties off (as my Mimi would say) only to be told when Mom poked her head out of the side door and hollered up the drive,
"IT'S 40 DEGREES BELOW ZERO! THE BUSES CAN'T RUN, THE GAS HAS TURNED TO JELLY IN THEIR TANKS! COME INSIDE!"
This morning, however, I was thinking more along the lines of the Christmas march we used to take. My folks live in a small village in VT (note how I said 'village,' and not 'town,' since we don't have the population for that designation) where every December 24th there is a candle-lit march to an extremely old church which has no electricity, no bathrooms and no heat.
Everyone walks humming, or silently down the frozen dirt road, through the dark canopy of trees, their faces glowing as though lit from within, eyes darkened and dancing over the candles in their hands to the high-ceilinged structure. Once everyone files inside, it's a glorious scene: candles on every conceivable surface-- never mind that the church's interior is completely made of ancient, dry wood.
Families squeeze into box-like tall sided pews and the little ones, who's hands and faces aren't warm enough despite the candles, mittens, hats, scarves and snowsuits, wriggle to get under the blankets their grandmothers, aunts, uncles, grandfathers and parents have brought, since it's so cold out that the wind daren't even blow.
Then, people begin to sing. They sing every carol imaginable. All the usual ones, and then some.
I think perhaps it's because when you're singing, you have no way to notice that you can no longer feel your fingers and toes, or the tip of your nose, and that in-fact, your lungs are working so hard to warm-up the air for you to expel, that you actually feel as though you're sweating along with each shiver. You feel warmer.
After the impromptu service of the carols, everyone trickles out through the big dark doors of the church. Outside, the stars are winking and flickering in the deep midnight-black of the sky. It's now so cold that every intake of breath stings a little, and walking is made slightly more treacherous because of the black ice layer over the packed dirty snow on the road, but nobody cares, because something magical has just happened. Everyone has come, all-together, to celebrate and sing in the woods, something that humans have been doing for a long, long time.
That's what I was reminded of this morning, even though it's almost February, and the holiday season has been long finished.
It's just that sometimes, I find myself longing for the exact smell of snow falling on the water, for real wood burning in stoves, spicy and comforting and smoky. For maple syrup boiling down in the sugar house, coating faces, hair, and clothes in a sweet cloud that you can smell and even taste after you've left the hot steamy room. I miss the swirling colors of drifts of soft snow as it falls silently overhead in big fluffy flakes, almost in slow motion against the black sky, the trees outlined by a single street-lamp reflecting the rainbows in the descending crystals.
Make no mistake, I love Colorado. I love the altitude, the clear air, the smell of the pine-needles, the vanilla bark trees and the blue of the sky contrasted against the purple-charcoal mountains.
Sometimes though, I miss what's past and what I know is still out there. New England holds the Christmas magic for me, and I'll always long for the moonlight on the snow.