The sunshine is deceitful, as it smothers us in warmth through the windowpane, the wind threatens to burn an icy finger through the glass and tear us in two. Another day of unbearable cold, a mysterious lethargy forms over me and I pick up the phone to call work and say that I’m not coming in.
Then I sit. No energy or resourcefulness. I catch up on reading, cuddling a purring cat to share the chilly sunshine spots. Clear and unbroken, the snow beckons, the cross-country skis lay forgotten in the arctic cold, the golden light outside playing strands of color across the floor and I resist opening the door to feel it’s light on my face. The cat burrows in to my chin, pressing his head to me as if to say ‘This is where you belong.’
I experiment in the kitchen, turn on the oven, roast a few potatoes and make a quick bread in my cast-iron skillet. It works, and it doesn’t, but I eat what cooked well and poke through the rest of it, sunshine warm on my back and the hum of the oven keeping time with the furnace exhaust that floats by the window. From the chimneys across the yard, white puffs billow, hang in the air close to the rooftops. A few tornados of snow kick across the blank white canvas. The ice on the edges of the windows hasn’t even melted yet and it’s after noon, now. I try not to think of the animals out there in this cold.
Brownies come together in a pan, thick, swirls of chocolate, butter and sugar spun together, dark chocolate chunks melting within, a blue flame coaxing flavor and magic alchemy. After their fragrant turn in the warm oven, the scent rises to the ceilings, filling the house and chasing off the chill of the day. The potatoes rest on the baking sheet, skins wrinkling as they cool. A memory flashes through my mind of sitting bathed in summer sunshine on the faded redwood steps outside, birdsong keeping company with the wind through the leaves, and me, dipping my fork in a bowl of fried potatoes, salient with smoked salt and grinds of sharp pepper. Once more, I watch the streams from my neighbors chimney, smoke clinging low in the sky.
The sky is a cold, icy and brilliant blue, and the furnace hums on, and on, and on.