It is cold. The snowbirds left. They left the snow. I told them I would move it for them and make their places look lived in. They look lived in because my footprints are all over.  

I really don’t mind being outside on a crisp, clear, night, breathing the cold air.  When the snow blower quits, it is quiet. Then there is the moonlight and crunch of my Sorels on the freshly shoveled driveways. It is these moments when senses are heightened, that I am willing to throw another shovel full on the nearest pile.

Sense and memory are companions. The sound of the back door opening late in the afternoon on a cold day makes me consider getting out the “WD 40” and oiling the hinges. The noise is annoying, but it brings consistency and certainty, especially when it proclaims the last kid has come home for the night. Then I would miss that squeaking herald announcing the return of someone important. In the morning, as I get the paper, the sound verifies what standing there in my bathrobe confirms. It is cold.

The house is an especially warm place to return to after creating mountains around the neighborhood. When the cold wind and snow stops or stalls every living thing, life continues in the smell of freshly baked breads and blueberry muffins. Laboring inside for the sheer enjoyment of kneading bread and being warmed by the effort has tangible rewards. The world may be hibernating outside, but inside it carries on in the smells and clatter of pans and dishes.

As frigid days settle in, wood smoke invades. A roaring fire and the tick, tick, tick of metal expanding in the firebox tells me I will remain warm, despite the sun dogs suspended halfway up the horizon. They seem to howl outside, warning of more frost to come.

At night, if I have been adventurous, the blankets and quilt aired in frigid sunshine returns a fresh scent to a stuffy bedroom. An electric blanket warms the chilled beds surface, welcoming a body weary of warding off the elements.

The cats are in for the night. The bedroom smells fresh, the bed is warm, and the soft touch of a hand and a gentle voice keeps frozen Everests and booming ice dams away for another day.

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