Snowflake snuggles...

Another frigid morning. The dog and I briskly circle the block while the cats map the warmest radiators and sunniest windows.

This is my day sixteen contribution to this month’s River of Stones.

Winged pedestrian

A morning so cold, the dog’s pee steams, puddles, then freezes on the pavement, leaving a slick yellow smear.

This is my belated day fifteen contribution to this month’s River of Stones.

Beware of falling snow and ice

The colder the day, the squeakier the crunch of frozen snow underfoot.

This is my Day Twenty-Four submission to a river of stones, a month-long challenge to notice (and record) one thing every day. I’ll be posting my “stones” both here and on Twitter, where submissions are tagged as #aros. Enjoy!

Picket fence on snow

It’s cold outside, and bright. The colder the day, the more sharp the sun shines, as if light were a razor stropped on ice.

This is my Day Ten submission to a river of stones, a month-long challenge to notice (and record) just one thing every day. I’ll be posting my “stones” both here and on Twitter, where submissions are tagged as #aros. Enjoy!

Aglow

I’ve decided it’s not the dresses themselves that catch my eye whenever I walk past Miranda’s Verandah in downtown Keene, but the light emanating from those dresses. On these dark days of December, when all my dog-walks are frigid and most happen in darkness, I can’t imagine myself wearing something short, sleeveless, and frilly…but I can imagine myself aglow with an inner fire, my soul smoldering within me like a torch.

I’ve quickly become re-accustomed this year to winter dog-walking, which is good given how often Reggie needs to go outside these days. Already it seems like an old habit to throw on my long down coat; grab my keys, a flashlight, and a few poop-scoop bags; and stroll around my neighborhood in a hat, scarf, and warm winter boots at all hours of night and day. Even when temperatures are in the teens, you quickly acclimate to the cold if you’re actually walking in it, versus watching the thermometer from inside. Your inner fire burns brighter and fiercer, and you give up fighting against the cold and simply relax into it instead. There’s no need to rush an old dog, and no need to fight the cold. Inside the shelter of your own skin and its protective layers, your life-light kindles and shimmers brighter than any star in the brilliant-black winter sky.

I wrote a similarly titled post almost exactly one year ago today, rekindling an age-old theme.

Gratuitous cuteness

It’s been brutally cold today and yesterday, with windchill temperatures in the teens and single-digits. Reggie doesn’t seem to mind the cold as long as the pavement beneath his paws isn’t too icy, so we walk even in frigid temperatures, with Reggie tugging at his leash and me wrapped in layers of down and fleece.

Pristine

I’m always amazed to see wild things active and apparently undeterred by severe winter weather, as if cold doesn’t penetrate fur and feathers. Yesterday, the squirrels seemed oblivious to the cold, and this morning, a half dozen Cedar waxwings were foraging in a cluster of fruit-laden crab-apple trees, consuming fuel for their inner fires.

On cold days, it still feels good to walk, at least once you burn off your initial inertia. If you dress well, you almost don’t mind the chill, knowing full well you have a warm apartment and hot beverages to return to. Fingers inside gloves warm quickly if you swing your arms, and a long down coat will keep even your legs warm if you walk briskly. The only thing that really hurts on a frigid morning dog-walk is your face, but even that isn’t insurmountable: I wear a scarf on extremely cold days, and I haven’t lost my nose, cheeks, or watering eyes to frostbite yet.

Throughout the day today as I’ve sat grading papers at my kitchen table, I’ve repeated a silent prayer of gratitude each time I’ve heard the furnace start up in the basement below me: the sound of my apartment fueling its own inner fire.

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