Fletcher gave this coffee cup mug warmer to his Mom for Christmas–the perfect gift for January mornings in Montana. It was so cold in Joy’s kitchen this past week-end. Of course, we grandparents are up hours before the household of teenagers comes down the stairs, and long before the heat turns on, and I was content to lounge in bed in Fletcher’s room, as the space heater beamed out warmth. We hate kicking him out of his space when we come to visit, but Joy says it’s a great opportunity for her to fumigate his quarters. There’s lots to study in the room of a 17 year-old grandchild, who will soon be off to college. Old football photos of him hang on the walls, and weird graphic posters of bands he likes or concerts he’s attended. Ticket stubs from the prom, and the race bib from a cycling race are pinned to a bulletin board. There are a slew of tall trophies, with a motorcycle perched on top, which line the shelves above his desk, from the days when he raced motocross, as such a little boy. A welding helmet rests on the top of an armoire. In a corner, I saw the used speaker I had given him, plugged into what must be an amplifier, and an electric guitar propped up against the wall. At the foot of the bed, there is a three-tiered shoe rack, neatly lined with enormous Nike sneakers of all colors, including bright red, which looked like something the giant might have worn in Jack and the Beanstalk. And a collection of inspirational quotes, written in black magic marker on 8×10 pieces of paper, are stuck on his door with pushpins, which led me to believe, The Kids Are All Right.
It finally looks like winter outside. On our drive home across the state yesterday, we said it looked like November, and where was the snow, but it began snowing for the final few hours of the trip, and when I tried to drive up our road this morning, I couldn’t make it. That’s a first. Studded snow tires and four-wheel drive have always worked in the past, and it was only the heart-stopping slide coming down that has been taking years off my life at a rapid pace. Don was able to rescue the paralyzed car by shoveling gravel beneath the wheels, but that was IT for me–I’ve made it an official stay-at-home snow day. I shoveled the stone steps, and Gary, the cat, went with me for a little snow walk in the woods, and I took some winter photos. I’m about to bring in more wood and start the fire early today, so I can snuggle in with my stack of books under a wool throw. The soup tonight is potato leek with Dijon mustard as a secret ingredient. There’s a brand new bottle of Jameson Black Barrel in the cabinet. Not so bad, really, as we plod along through the month of January, looking forward to winter’s bitter end, someday.
The Bitter End
Summoned from a fresh page
Of winter, and finished with a stovepipe hat,
The snowman started life in middle age,
Bald and running to fat.
In a corner of the yard
Beneath an ice-encrusted pine tree tassel,
Honor-bound and dauntless, he stood guard
Over the frozen castle
Built also by a child
On the unshovelled morning after the storm.
He lingers there, content to wait, in a mild
And vaguely human form,
Dissolving into the mud.
He’s shed his scarf and dropped his walking cane,
Endured the soft and intermittent thud
Of January rain,
And still maintains his grinning
While comprehending nothing of his demise,
Not the dangling corncob nor the thinning
Sockets of his eyes.
He makes the slow return
From gutter stream through glittering brook to sea
With relatively small or no concern
For his own misery;