It was cold outside when I woke up, a few degrees below zero. I opted to use the percolator to make coffee rather than the drip coffee machine. I filled the stainless-steel pot to the six-cup line with cold water. I placed the basket on the hollow stem, added three scoops of coffee grounds, and put the perforated cover on top. I lowered the assembly into the water, closed the lid, set the pot on the stove, and turned the knob - Tick, tick, tick, tick, woosh. I adjusted the blue flame below.
Above the percolator, I rubbed my hands together, warming them in the heat rising from the flame. Thinking a fire in the woodstove would sure be nice on such a chilly morning; I went out on the deck to bring in a few logs from the woodpile.
Wearing my buffalo plaid, flannel pajama pants, a Smokey Bear t-shirt, and my house slippers, I stood where the woodpile should be – but there was no wood. I shivered and recited a children's poem. "Old Mother Hubbard went to the cupboard – but when she got there, the cupboard was bare." That's exactly how I felt. I forgot to restock the small pile we keep close to the door.
I walked to the edge of the deck, staring at the big pile of firewood across the yard. "Why couldn't some of that be up here?" I seriously contemplated trekking over to gather an armload of logs. I looked down at my feet and bare ankles inside my slippers. In sub-zero weather, running across the snow-covered yard, still in my pajamas, would not have been exemplary of good decision-making skills. It was starting to snow. "I should have worn socks." I shivered and went back into the house.
Back in the kitchen, the coffee was perking with a steady rhythm. There's something about that sound that warms the soul - well, it usually warms the soul. That little excursion out to the deck had me plenty chilled. I poured a cup of coffee and wrapped my hands around the warm mug. "Oh, that feels good."
The mug warmed my hands, but my body was still cold. I wrapped an afghan from the couch around my shoulders, then stood with my coffee, looking out the bay window. The snow was falling much faster now. There were only a couple of chickadees at the bird feeder. Maybe it was too cold for the rest to come out yet.
A small red squirrel was in the pale green feeder that looks like an old-fashioned metal porch glider. The critter was sitting on his hind legs; his bushy tail pointed upward. He held and turned sunflower seeds using his front paws as he nibbled through the shell. Once he had the tasty treasure inside, he tossed the empty husk over the railing, and picked up another seed. He amused me: how fast his little jaws moved. I wondered where the little guy goes to stay warm on these bitterly cold nights. Just then, something spooked the squirrel.
He jumped from the porch, scurrying across the top of the snow, to the safety of a woodpile. He must have a nest in there because my dog June goes nuts running around that pile looking for him. "So that's where he stays warm." I smiled, thinking about commonalities between the squirrel and me. To get through the winter, he has nuts and food stashed all around the yard, where I have piles of firewood stacked all around the yard to get me through the winter.
I looked at my dark, empty woodstove, then at firewood outside. The snow was accumulating on the blue tarp that kept the logs below dry. I scowled, "That squirrel is using my firewood to stay warm while I stand here freezing." It just didn't seem fair. "I sure wish I had some of that wood in here." I rechecked the outside temperature; it was up to one degree above zero. "I don't want it that bad."
I just wanted a way to get warm. Even June was warm, curled up on the sofa. I had an idea that caused me to smile.
Happiness is telling your dog (who is not supposed to be on the couch) to get off the couch, so I can take a nap with my blanket - in the warm spot she left. "Oh, that feels nice." I said, tucking the covers under my chin.
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