Sunday, February 13, 2011


We're caught tight in snow and ice; it's so cold, -10 this morning. As an early riser I get to appreciate just how snowbound we are, before the first pass of the plow, before the first shadow of smoke from the chimney across the road, before the reluctant fading of the moon.

Even at this hour on a Sunday morning cars busily ply the causeway that connects us to our sister island. I always wonder where people are going to or coming from so early and in such cold. Activity seems at odds with reality, for we are all deep in hibernation mode. Dogs sleep and sleep, moving during the day with the splash of sun that makes its way across the floor, snuggling up to the woodstove at night. Cats spend the nights as unmoving bundles at the foot of our bed disappearing during the day to closets and crannies that hold the heat. Just watching the animals makes me want to sleep the winter away too.

When we do go out, the cold either beats up or beats out the color from our faces; lungs burn with the cold, eyes water. We have to gear up just to fetch the mail from the box down our long driveway, which has turned into a glossy river of ice. Out on the Reach, the rocks are cellophaned with ice, in the field the firs bend to the ground with ice, ice lines the eaves and barricades the back door.

But oh, the stars - trembling at night like crystal ear-bobs against the deep blue black. The moon is a crisp wafer, the shadows of the trees are long and sharp as penciled lines across the snow.

Now, at dawn, steaming vapor - pink and gold - floats up from the water to touch the shreds of higher clouds over the islands. An eerie reflection on the frozen bay mirrors the brightening sky a full hour before the sun pops above the distant hills.

Five am and it's a silent world without birds, without walkers along the road or dogs in yards. We're all holding our breath, waiting for the first "drip, drip" from the eaves.

On the table a spray of paperwhites is in full bloom.