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Lingering Winter

soupAroma thick with thyme and marjoram steams from the simmering split pea soup. I’ve enjoyed the whole process—chopping onion, celery, and carrot, measuring the spices and selecting the bay leaves, stirring until the soupy mass starts to bubble and boil. More condensation to collect on the window panes where sleet bounces and taps it rhythm against the other side.

There’ll be no venturing out today. The roads are slick with ice. Time to relax and accept what the Mother has in store, a lingering blast of winter with all its gifts of cold and white. Wind whistling at the chimney where smoke of my wood fire plumes sideways. Time to muse on past winter days when fire blazed hot and pan lids jiggled, when my gaze settled on the distance and roamed over the years of my life.

Memories of winter’s challenges rise up to nourish me on these days, recollections of times when hardships were met and I was satisfied with my refuge, my larder, my conquest of the elements. In more distant times, I might have twisted strands of wool or linen and watched the wheel spin it to thread, or pounded clothes in a hot kettle for cleaning, or ground corn between stones to make coarse bread. I might have wrapped my children in animal skins and tied my own feet in fur before braving the cold for more wood, or brought the livestock into the other end of a rough cabin to keep them from freezing in the long nights.

How did I, of all my previous iterations, manage to occur here, now, where everything I need comes more or less effortlessly—the twist of a knob, click of a button, the turn of a key? A house with insulated walls and thick glass that keep in the warmth and allow me to watch frozen rain fall from gray-white clouds. What future embodiments of myself will wonder back on this time and what will they know? What I don’t know. What I can imagine for better. Or worse.

I don’t have to figure it out. Anyway, I can’t. Better to turn to the pan and stir the soup, add another log to the fire, stand at the window longer and marvel at the shades of gray and rust among the trees of the woods, the white of the sky and ground. Soon the scene will explode in infinite shades of green and heat will soak the edges. I’ll be pleased then to remember this cold.

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