December 13, 2007
When Beautiful Smart Wonderful Daughter moved back home this week, she brought a laundry basket of clothes and — of course — her laptop computer. Almost as soon as she walked in the door, she claimed a spot on the comfy couch in front of the fire and opened her laptop to begin editing a magazine article due this week. Boy in Black isn't done with his semester either: he has several final exams. After I put another log on the fire and sat down next to my daughter with my laptop, he said, "Hey, if we're having a laptop party, I'll bring down mine."
And that's where we've been this week, cosily settled in front of the fire, getting our work done while we eat and talk. With-a-Why and Shaggy Hair have joined us with their homework or sometimes provided background music on the piano, since they've got their Christmas concert on Saturday. (They are playing a four-hand version of the Tchaikovsky's Russian Dance from The Nutcracker Suite.)
In an unusual surge of domestic activity spurred on by the fact that I had papers to grade, I made hot lentil stew, a big pot of homemade vegetable soup, vegan chocolate cake, and a type of cinnamon oatmeal bread that we all call "Healthy Bread" because it is relentlessly healthy. Spouse has been at work, furiously getting his stuff done so he can enjoy ten days home with us at Christmas. The roads have been icy and snow-covered, but inside, the house smells of cinnamon and woodsmoke and chocolate.
I've taken the time to work on some big cleaning projects, mostly downstairs where I can hang out with the kids and clean at the same time. I'm a binge cleaner, and the end of a semester is when I tackle projects: cleaning out the refrigerator and freezer, tossing anything that is still there from last year, emptying the cupboards, going through the bookshelves behind the kitchen table, sorting through the stacks of books and papers that accumulate everywhere. Billie talked on her blog about the concept of osoji, a ritual of cleaning and purification that comes at the end of a year, and that fits with my mood as we approach the Solstice.
This morning, though, after several days of lounging by the fire, I got a facebook message from Often Erotic Sometimes Blogging Friend: "Perfect day for winter photos. Get out there, girl." She was right. The house was empty. My younger kids had gone off to school, Spouse was at work, Boy in Black had left to take a Physical Chemistry exam, and my daughter had gone with him to hand in a final project. So I pulled on my winter coat and boots, and trudged out in the snowy, windy woods behind my house.
White snow was drifting and clinging to every surface in the woods: branches, trees stumps, mossy logs. The ground was frozen, but the ice still thin on the puddles. Since I had worn my tall rubber boots, I crashed happily through the puddles, stomping through the ice, breaking white into jagged pieces that drifted crazily on muddy water. I am far too noisy in the woods to see much wildlife, but snowy ground was criss-crossed with the tracks of white-tailed deer.
A few times, I stopped to take off my gloves and take out my camera, but really, it's not easy to take photos when the wind is blowing snow onto your eyelashes and camera lens. Mostly, I just tromped around, enjoying the cold, pure air, and admiring the way the white snowflakes clung to green mosses and the gold-brown leaves of young beech trees. I walked east, following an old logging trail until I came to the hemlock grove where the deer bed down sometimes. Here, in this sheltered spot, snow was balanced on the green branches of the hemlocks, waiting only for a careless hiker to brush against the needles and send it whirling down to the ground.
By the time I returned to the warm house, my feet and hands were cold, and my lungs were full of fresh, clean air. I poured myself a cup of hot tea, cut myself a slice of chocolate cake, and sat back down on the comfy couch to write a blog post.
Posted by jo(e)