02.22.15. Next Sunday it will be March. We’ve almost made it through “February, month of despair, with a skewered heart in the centre” as Margaret Atwood describes it in her poem. She would have loved yesterday’s pond hockey event in town. Bitter cold in the arctic blast that just blew in, it warms the heart to see grown-ups having fun on the ice. Their youngsters played hockey and skated around on the open rinks between games and there were picnics on the frozen crunchy snow.
In the evening, we crowded into downtown’s favorite restaurant, huddled together with others in the entry as we waited for a table. Every time the door opened and closed, frigid air enveloped the space, but a big table of out-of-town hockey players was nearing the end of their dinner, and, sensing their celebrity status, regaled us with good cheer, appreciation for our beautiful valley, and chatter about today’s championships in 6 degree temperatures. Their enthusiasm spread warmth over us all, and it was a grand Saturday night, lively and cozy with that uniquely Montana sense of community.
When we drove the 20 miles home, it was quiet and solitary as it always is in Winter. With all the years I’ve lived here, I continue to be surprised by the starkness of leaving a busy, bustling restaurant with friends, and coming out into the stone cold dark isolation of night on a two-lane road home. I like the silence in those drives and any conversation feels it should be in hushed voices. Lights twinkled here and there out in the fields and the stars met the horizon. When we turned down our rutted frozen dirt road, there was the waxing crescent moon, hanging low and dead-centered in the middle of the drive, leading us down the twisty hill to our house. Homecoming in Winter is the sweetest kind of sanctuary.