A little-known introit to "Winter Wonderland" plays in my head as I look out my children's north-facing window. "It's winter." At long last the ground wears "a mantel of white", and my view is partially obscured by a fractal-pattern of frost on the window pane. Such condensation could be viewed as evidence that the humidifier needs adjusting, but the cracks on my hands tell another story, as do the angry red patches behind two pairs of little knees. For the sake of the children, the humidity is increased rather than reduced, and I choose to see this temporary window treatment as a symptom of something splendid. We're having a couple of self-proclaimed "snow" days - prairie style: staying home from school not because of impassable streets but due to temperatures that would only look high if measured in Kelvin.
After six outings in -30 winds on Monday, the adventure of outdoor excursions had worn a little thin. The first trip out to preschool had me feeling pretty smug - 'frigid weather isn't so bad as long as you dress for it,' said the overly-inflated tough prairie girl in my head. Coming home with my face to that wicked north wind, however, I was singing a different tune. Or maybe it was more of whimper. I headed out to pick up the princess bearing yet another scarf, hoping to blunt the sting of her own rude winter discovery. It only partially worked, but by taking breaks to walk backward we made it home, slowly but safely. This experience, unfortunately, was topped by our drive out to the dentist that afternoon; wind is never so cruel as in a strip-mall parking lot where nary an edifice is tall enough to tame its fury. I'd take an residential hike out in the elements to the sprint from vehicle to store and back in an asphalt desert any day. Between the temperature dipping yet another ten degrees and my husband no longer able to stay home with our toddler, a day or two in great indoors sounded like a good idea, much as I'm loath to expand the reasons one can stay home from school.
Yesterday, I loved it. The white landscape outside my kitchen window brought out the brilliance of colours inside. The pink marbling of our potassium-laced rock salt gleamed from the creamy mouth of our salt pig like so much quartz. The warm orange of the beginnings of yet another batch of pumpkin muffins smiled out of a stainless-steel bowl, oversized to accommodate the overly-vigourous mixing of a 4-year-old helper. The compost heap had vanished under a white peak, chasing away a certain charcoal coloured cat that used our rubbish as bate for seekers of seeds; apparently the potential of wild game has lost its allure for that domesticated feline. Between making muffins and turkey pot pie, the oven kept us warm well into the evening. Why would one need to leave home?
By the tail-end of breakfast this morning, however, my daughter and I had reminded each other of the many benefits of going to preschool. Cabin fever appears to both increase her inquisitiveness and lower my tolerance for being endlessly mined for information. Thankfully she opted to go and play downstairs with her brother before things completely unraveled and left her frazzled mommy to finish her coffee and blog in blessed silence. Leaving the house tomorrow will do us good. Until then, I'll do my best to focus on the paradox of a bright warm sun making it colder outside.
I did, nevertheless, make one discovery worth sharing: if you're ever in need of conversational fodder with a musically-minded youngster, play Feist's "The Reminder" and try to identify each instrument as your hear it and explain how it's played. There are a lot of them. You will talk the whole way through the album. Just don't make my mistake of turning it on before drinking the requisite amount of coffee.
Stay warm, friends.