December 23rd, 2002

caillebotte_the balcony

Cold

Now that winter has officially arrived, my brain has frozen. The waning moon is bright, and shares the sky with but a few scattered stars. I look at them and think of nothing. My brain has frozen. The lawn has frozen, too, and crunches if I step on it. I'm sure that ought to remind me of something, but it doesn't. Earlier, I heard the clop of a deer's hooves down the street, but the deer did not come toward my house. I waited for something to happen, but there was only silence. This is the very bottom of the year, the time of glacial thoughts and empty air, the heat drained away, drawn out through the skin, through the scalp, faster than it can be regenerated. I feel that chill in my head, and there is nothing I can say. My brain is frozen. Late in the night, Venus rises, and its bright reflected light gleams in the darkness like a bit of ice. All I can think of tonight is cold.
caillebotte_man at his window

Nearing Year's End

I have one thing to say:
Alaska! Take back your weather!

Wait. I have another thing to say:

One of the more remarkable (and remarkably disorienting) pictures I've seen lately. (Posted by entworldet.)

While I'm at it, I might as well say this:

It's very difficult to sit at the computer when your ass has been frozen off. The sun was out today, for most of the day, and it was pleasant to stand in its warm rays. But stepping into the shade was to court hypothermia. Yes, yes, I know that the high forties is considered warm in many places, but I'm Californian! I'm spoiled! I chill easily, and the experience displeases me greatly.

Still, I took a walk down the path along the edge of the woods, and listened to the handful of dried leaves still clinging to a maple tree rustle in the breeze with a sound like old love letters being crumpled and burned. Goodbye, spring; it was all so fresh and surprising. Goodbye, summer; we had a good time on those soft, warm nights. Goodbye, autumn; too bad the full ripeness had to decay.

Across a desiccated meadow, streaked with the golden light of late afternoon, I saw a jackrabbit bounding. It paused on the trail for a moment and looked at me. Then it leaped into the brush along the edge of the woods. I stood listening to unseen birds singing all around, and the faint sound of water running through a small gully nearby.

Walking along an alley lined with young ponderosas, I was surprised by the softness underfoot, from the thick layer of fallen pine needles. The dried and broken remnants of the tall grass which had stood there scant weeks ago were entirely buried beneath them. To the sides of the alley, I could see small glades, cast in soft shadow, where patches of the grass still stood uncovered, brown and dormant, waiting for spring. Beyond the wood, scattered trees dotting an open field etched the bright blue of the sky with bare grey branches and twigs which gleamed in the sunlight like silver filigree. The day seemed both as soft as the winter sunlight and as brittle as the cold winter air.

The setting sun burnished the clouds which had formed in the west, and once it was gone, night drew its deeper chill over the forest. It is another night for tea and books and lamplight, while the wan stars wheel overhead and the deer forage in the dried grass. Later, I will go out and see Sirius rise, brighter than the other stars. Tomorrow, probably more clouds, and maybe more rain, but the day will be a bit longer than today. The long, slow turn back to spring has begun.