It was -17 this morning — so cold it froze the batteries in our brand new weather station.
These are the mornings our wood cookstove-heated earth-sheltered house wraps us up in a snowbound chrysalis. I got to pat myself on the back for having thought to get the wood bins overloaded Friday morning before the cold snap known as ‘Winter’ began in earnest.
As I cooked a farmer’s breakfast for our family who no longer has responsibility for anything resembling a farm animal (unless reformed barn cats count) or any intention of leaving the house for chores or pleasure until the mercury hits zero, I feel like Ma Ingalls in the Little House books. Then I remember that by this hour of an ordinary 17-below morning that Ma would have already done the farm chores and still be having a good hair day.
Two kids playing two different sports, with one assistant coaching the other, and our morning routine has shot to H E double hockey sticks.
We have not made the bus more than once in the last three weeks, and Monday was no exception.
Monday was a two sport day with a golf tournament two towns away and a game for the other after school, so we loaded up the car with gear and got to the bus stop to see it pulling away. It was OK, it was an opportunity to go over the schedule for the night and review the to-dos for the rest of the week–testing and more testing for college, prom fittings, and of course the all-important play date.
The last thing on my mind was creativity. I didn’t even have time to congratulate myself on setting the alarm clock two hours earlier to make sure it happened Monday morning. I’ve been drawing and sketching every day and working on illustrations for a children’s book but have not been in the mood to stop and soak up and/or paint the landscape.
The missed bus stayed two cars ahead of us for most of the drive out of our 300 person town. As we reached a main road, all I noticed that grey morning was the line of brake lights in front of us.
Thing1, however, was scanning the entire scene as he waited to guide the car into what Vermont calls “traffic”. As I went through the to do list, he leaned forward and glanced up at the sky. Then he looked at the mountain that rows up behind the nondescript garage across the street.
“Mom,” he said, “look at that light. do you see that little sliver of sun hitting the hill?” I nodded no I had not and still didn’t look up as we had seen that particular hill at least twice a day every day for the last 16 years.
Thing1 does not go gaga for art as his brother and I do. He draws very well, but his passions lie elsewhere so his next words demanded me to look up.
“Now that’s a painting,” he said.
I closed my list and listened and looked at the mountain. The parting clouds had refracted that sliver of sun so that the three-day-old leaves on the trees were infused with gold. Golden mist from the rainstorm that had past 10 minutes earlier diffused the details of the scenery in front of us, and just like that I was back into landscapes.
All it took was an overly busy, completely ordinary day and the observation of a kid who is pretty smart for a math major to point out the forest and the trees.