Only half-way through January and already it feels onerous and way too long. Is it advancing age that places this heavy mantle on my shoulders? Is it the contemplation of yet two more months of crippling snow and deep freeze?
The other day I tried to imagine what it would be like to live in Alaska, to roll out of bed every day and face the challenges of life in the frozen north. Nearly constant darkness, temperatures dropping lower than the worst ever chronicled on the summit of New Hampshire’s Mt. Washington. Nibbling on frozen whale blubber to stave off gnawing hunger pains that growl to be sated. Orca on the half-shell. Just plain awful.
It was not always like this. I can remember earlier years when I welcomed the onslaught of a strong winter storm. Together with other young couples we would head to the sledding hill of a friend in a nearby town, leaving a baby sitter to care for five sleeping children.
A cold and clear night, bright canopy of stars overhead, roaring bonfire, mugs of hot rum and the fun camaraderie of other young marrieds like ourselves. We felt such freedom from the daily responsibilities of our young lives. Icy winds, bitter cold temperatures, none of it mattered.
A fifty-year old memory? Impossible. It still seems like yesterday. Now, when wintry winds howl outside I retreat to my comfortable chair with a good book, snuggle a warm lap blanket closer around my knees, hunker down and long for the warm days of April.
Patricia Sullivan is a dedicated writer of short essays. In addition to Nature Writing, her work has been published in a Life After Seventy anthology, The Boston Globe newspaper, Regis College Creative Writing magazine, and Still Crazy Magazine. Mother of five, grandmother of seven,she stays young by spending time with kids and grandkids. Her celebrated wine cakes have appeared on many community tables, always with attached recipe. Patricia and her husband, Paul, live in a small house on Winnings Pond in Billerica, Massachusetts, USA, known as “Sullivan Central” to the members of her large family. A first attempt at writing in later years was a piece of “foolish doggerel” whose odd message she then accepted:
An Old Woman Dozing in Bed,
Heard an odd voice inside of her head.
“Wake up you old fool
and go back to school
There’s more years behind than ahead!”
Photo by vladsogodel