Wednesday in the Park, not to be confused with the 4th of July *

I am so busy, I don’t know how I had time to work. Such a well-worn phrase, but I am wearing it well, I think.

Days are filled with watching the world turn from monochrome to technicolor on a big screen, simple tasks, problem solving, checking the weather, staring out the window, listening to music, reading the news on-line (mostly depressing, but strangely addicting), checking the weather, talking to friends by email and phone, managing the woodpile, shoveling snow, maybe a little skiing or a snowmobile ride, picking up the mail, feeding the jays, checking the weather, reading, deciding which of Joyce’s wondrous soups to pull out of the freezer, watching the world return to black and white, a glass of wine, checking what phase the Moon is in, blessing the electric blanket (thanks Tom!).

If this is a routine, I like it. Waking up seems to happen between 4:30 and 5:56. I eagerly get up in these dark winter hours just so I don’t miss any of the day. Such early, cheerful rising used to be forbidden when I had to go to the dreary, stressful office and clung to every last possible minute of sleep. I like the mornings.

The first thing is to stoke the fire in the stove, which may or may not have survived the night. The fire anyway. Survival mostly depends on waking up around 2:00 a.m. to re-stoke the fire. I have learned that I can blaze up the fire at bedtime, bringing the inside temperature to what feels like a too warm 68° (not too hard to get an 80° inside/outside temperature differential here), shut the dampers all the way down, and still be hopeful for 60° in the morning. This seems about right, although I cast a judgmental eye on the woodpile. Is it enough? How will I know?

Then comes coffee, one of nature’s better innovations.

Night comes early, the dual effects of a mountain and the fast approaching solstice. It is 3:30 p.m. as I write this and definitely getting there. There is a mountain on the east side, too, delaying any morning sun. This particular spot, while blessed with views of the Sawatch Range and Willow Creek, is a bit on the cold, dark side. If I had it to do over again (I don’t), I might pay a little more attention to the path of the sun, along with the visual qualities. I might reconsider the whole round construction thing, too, but too late for that, also.

The last few days have their own highlights: getting to know Joe and Janet, long time sort of close neighbors, but new friends; watching the Pine Marten scamper across the woodpile, look in the window on raised hind legs, then the death-defying leap off the deck into the snow, leaving perfectly spaced hop marks at two-foot intervals; an ailing snowmobile and a solution (thanks Art!); connecting with newfound friends Ted and Annie wintering over not too far away; picking up a supposed Christmas gift, left unceremoniously on top of the mailbox at the Trading Post with my name written in big block marker letters (I guess they don’t do this in the City any more); search and destroy missions for uninvited cold air leaks; and trekking on skis to another neighbor’s cabin to “inspect” the outdoor hot tub and make sure it is up to temp for their return (sorry, names and locations shall remain undisclosed – after all they don’t want everybody in the Park over for skinny-dipping). And there are cameras.

The weather report claims back-to-back storm watches over the next few days.

Solitude maybe; lonely not.

* Apologies to Chicago - Third Album