Words and Photos by Lindsey Pemberton
Four blankets deep, a warm bed has never been as welcome and as hard to leave as on these cold winter days. Feet down, slippers on, sweater, lamp, and a slow shuffle to the kitchen. The window sill is sealed with ice, and outside just a sliver of pink is working its way across silent layers of snow. There’s the snap and crack of the gas stove top coming to life as I set the cherry red kettle on, carefully, so as not to wake the little ones. Curled up in their beds, they remind me of all the hibernating creatures - fat from summer feasting - tucked away in their burrows. At the same time, our own clever and infuriating resident mouse is probably nestled in the missing patch of my favorite sweater - may he sleep forever.
The sun breaks, casting long bare branched shadows, and we layer our clothing before stepping out into the bright white light. Over the summer, we housed a lovely monarch caterpillar who ate his fill of milkweed until finally, he slowly hoisted his chubby critter-rolls up and to a view, quietly curled, and wriggled into his cocoon. I feel like him now wrapped up in my layers - only somehow I’m wonderfully awake and it’s the world around me that sleeps, resting, waiting until the time has come to reinvent.
The week before Christmas we found two pairs of the loveliest vintage snow shoes and gifted them to ourselves. I can’t decide if they help or hinder as we awkwardly lope around in the deep snow picking our wandering children out of the deeper drifts. The forest feels new, fresh and the crunching noise of our steps stops short in the padded environment.
It’s cold, but not freeze-your-nose-hairs cold. So, we stay out until our faces are pink and a bit numb.
As we drive down the mountain the sun slips away faster than you would imagine and the houses in the village glow bright and cheery. There will be hot chocolate or cider, the mud room will quickly turn into pile of soggy scarves, gloves and hats, neighboring puddles of melting snow. As for the controversial snow shoes, they will be hung neatly on the wall for the time being.
Come January, the bitter cold will be my favorite good excuse to stay indoors. With the holidays come and gone, the wonderful, wonderful business of slowing down will fully set in. There are stacks of books to read, sketchbooks to fill, and everything to bake, stew and slowly sip. Outside the river freezes over, the wind whistles through the trees, and we count our blessings with each warm meal and with every candle lit in the window.