Happy New Year 2022 to everyone who reads this blog, and to your families and loved ones. Please excuse the long silence. I have been a little under the weather what with holiday observances and this year’s winter, which is extremely intense. We have already had four snowfalls of over 20 cm. In previous years we might have one such snowfall during the whole winter!
A gloomy winter indeed for the world. After what seemed like a Covid Spring just a few months ago, things have clamped down again and cases are rising. Even in my little town, we now have case numbers of triple digits, many of them primary school children. To protect their reputations, however (or, more probably, those of their families) we cannot find out any useful information, such as which school is afffected. We can only wait for what seems like the inevitable closure of schools throughout our area. Still, we have been lucky by international standards – we have not had anything like a federally mandated lockdown, and my grandkids have had two years of walking to the local school every day. Two years in a rural Japanese school – now that’s an experience not many have had.
My topic this time is very simple – I just thought I’d tell you about a typical day in my life, as I endure this winter. It will be very different in just a couple of months; Spring will be on the way and there will be a lot to do outside, so this is my chance to record this interval of time when I have a particular daily routine.
My day begins around 6:30 am when I roll out of bed and turn on the kerosene heater in my room, to make it easier to get up about 1/2 hour later. Throughout the night the temperatures in my house have steadily crept downward until they are about the same as outside, around freezing point, sometimes a degree or two below. I can see my breath in my unheated bedroom at night. I sleep in a cocoon of Polartec blankets and cats, the whole covered with an old, very heavy cotton batting futon. I like the weight of it and I’m told people pay high prices for weighted quilts… mine was just slumbering, along with my husband’s, in a cupboard up till I found it this year.
At 7 am I throw the covers aside and put on my fleecy oversuit to brave the cold. The cats have had their first outside runaround, and are now sitting in front of the bedroom heater waiting for me. I go to the outside door and make the hurried journey, looking up at the pale winter sky, about 30 steps to the outer door of our living room/kitchen. On the way I grab an egg from the outside fridge (why keep things in the fridge in this weather? Mostly to deter animals), which I use to mix up in the kitties’ breakfast. Once they are happily eating in the kitchen, I turn my attention to making a large cup of milky coffee and turning on the heaters and my SAD therapy light in the living room. I am a fixture on my big chair till after 8, drinking my coffee, checking my phone, and serving as a cushion for the cats, who like to sit on my lap and look out the window from this warm and safe vantage point.
Eventually I get up, greet my husband before he disappears into his office for a day of telework, maybe make a simple breakfast for the two of us, and decide what I will do in the morning. My projects are spread out all over the house, so I have to decide what I will do so I can turn on the appropriate heating.
Work on my stained-glass lamp? Draw another entry in my new “picture diary”? Practice the piano? Sewing, knitting? Take a walk or bike ride if the weather is clement? I like to have lots of projects and I am grateful for all of them. Human beings are like sharks – they have to move forward. How can we get out of bed if we don’t have something that we can nudge a little further toward completion? At least, that’s my own feeling. Admittedly, it’s a good day when I can give myself the gift of one of my favorite winter afternoon activities – a nap. Is this moving something forward? Probably not, but my bed is so warm!
I get going again around 4:30, with another round of cat-feeding, a decaf and snack, and cooking dinner. I usually cook and my husband washes or puts away dishes. In the evening, I may continue one project, or just veg out in front of my laptop watching Netflix. My husband has commandeered the TV to watch his own Netflix, usually Korean or Japanese dramas, sometimes in period costume – those Korean traditional hats make me giggle when I sneak a peek at them – sometimes modern. Around 9 pm I get in the bath, put the cats out (they have been snoozing on various chairs all evening) and trek back to my bedroom, which of course has been pre-warmed. A little later, the cats arrive to snuggle with me till morning. Since I like it pitch black when I’m asleep, the only way I can tell which cat is which in bed is by feeling their tails. Daisy has a little hook at the end of his.
A lot of energy in winter for me is spent thinking about heating, also struggling with clothes – so many layers! – but generally, I’ve been going more slowly with every activity in winter. Look outside – everything is grey and cold, the plants and creatures are all living their lives more slowly, if not actually asleep. Why should I be any different?
Sometimes I actually forget what day it is. Retirement plus winter – that’s bliss. Of course, come late March I will be busy doing gardening stuff, but for now … hit the snooze button.
Please check out the new photos for winter on the website.