Thursday, January 24, 2013

Cold is beautiful

This is the time of year I dread most: a solid week of subzero temps; on a good day, a high in the single digits. This year, more so than others, a biting wind has come with it. All I want to do is crawl under the covers and sleep it away.

But of course, life goes on—as much indoors as possible! Even that’s a strain, though, with freezing pipes, firewood consumption higher in three days than otherwise for a month, and static electricity making the cat run away when you try to pet him, and your hair standing on end.

Looking out the window, however, makes all that go away for a moment.

This evening, I caught the most glorious sunset! Beyond the white stretches of snow bounded by gray and brown trees, peeking above them, the hills suddenly went roseate. Purple, mauve, and magenta, with the crystalline sky above forming a perfect pastel rainbow of violet, lilac, and pink, easing seamlessly into peach then baby blue, growing ever more richer and deeper blue as I looked up to an almost-full moon gleaming white like a high-beam headlight behind the black skeleton arms of near-view trees.

(That moon, in fact, tends to wake us up at 2:00 in the morning as it crosses the sky and suddenly beams into the bedroom. We don’t have curtains, so it’s quite a poke in the eye when you roll over!)

And then, the stars! OMG, you can see to the end of the universe. All that’s missing is an aurora borealis to add the final glory. I still dream about seeing one someday.

But color comes in other forms, at similarly surprising moments. Yesterday morning, while doing the dishes, I glanced out the window at the bird feeder and almost dropped a plate. Normally all we see this time of year are the black/white/gray/brown species; but there, on opposite sides of the feeder, were a brilliant red cardinal and an equally brilliant blue jay. In a second, they were gone.

That was payback for all those mornings I’ve donned six layers and trudged outside to refill the feeders. And the view out the curtainless windows is payback for the chill that comes through unblanketed glass.

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