Hibernation

‘When the days get longer, the cold gets stronger’ is an old woodsman’s aphorism around here, and it is certainly true this year, where December was all mud, but February’s set in bitter.  The driveway’s a skating rink, but the pond is rubble – unskateable.

In the woods, there is the quietness of Morphée, not the hush dispersed by fresh snow – the old fall has dried into a decrepitude of ice, so that you cannot walk without making a dispelling crunch.  Not that anything is there to hear – all the animals have crept as well, into their dens to sleep with their tails over their nose.  Over the brook the ice is in thin shelves, I must cross on the icy trunks, or risk breaking through like the floors of the World Trade Center, and landing in the stream I can still hear flowing below the albic ice.

The air is piercingly blue, with a strikingly different wind chill whether you’re walking into it or away from it.  I walk down the pond, wind cowled around my back – someone’s brought an ice house onto the pond, one they can push around over different holes.

Back through the still woods in the gathering dark to avoid that wind trying to cleave my face, there is no sense of life – it is the eerie frozen-ness of a fairy tale.

If the weather is trying to convince me to stay, it is doing a terrible job – I’m wondering why I live here, and am headed for the door to the tropics.

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