white noise

The weather report claims that right now it is somewhere between -3 and -18 degrees Celcius. The wood stove has been raging for several hours and my toes still feel frozen. I am still wearing two sweatshirts, a hat, a scarf, and fingerless gloves.

Even if my wagon was finished we would be packed in here together. To save wood. To keep warm. He watches a movie from the bed while I sit in a chair in front of the fire, barely a foot away from each other, to write to you about abandoned buildings and the frozen potatoes in the kitchen cabinet. There is room for another two or three people in here, but the others are all tucked away in their own heated, blanketed nests or have already fled to relative’s homes for the holidays.

The windows are all covered with multiple blankets, the un-used cat door stuffed with an old sheet. A curtain sections off the room’s last meter so that there is less space to heat. Still the cold pushes its way in, even as the fire pushes it out. Orange tells us that he has had his wood stove blaring for three hours, and his wagon is not getting any warmer.

I imagine covering the floor with mattresses and fashioning cartoonish slippers out of two down blankets. I imagine warm toes and warm fingers. I’ve heard stories about winter days so cold that everyone moved into the house and had an enormous, spontaneous slumber party. People laying in a circle around a few candles, reading stories to each other, playing board games, making food, and sleeping on the mattresses spread out in the attic for visiting bands. The thought almost makes me wish it was even colder. Almost.

The pipes in the bathroom have all frozen because we forgot to turn off the water before the cold hit. Now three pipes have exploded, and we’ll have to beg someone from the plumbing firm in front of the platz to repair it and hope that they’ll except a case of beer in exchange.

I investigate the price of a plane ticket to Spain (“Are you planning your honeymoon?” people tease), but nothing that is cheap fits our schedules, things that are expensive don’t fit in our wallets, and after Sleeveless and I’s trip I swore I’d never fly Ryanair again. But really I don’t want to escape the cold. The snow, my breath hanging frozen in the air, the warm nested feeling of a small warm space and piles of blankets, the sound of the wood stove: the combination gives me a warm, protected feeling that I associate with the concept of home.

On Friday it snowed a few centimeters and public transportation stuttered to a halt. Unimportant things became obviously so: I don’t need to go to school or work in this weather; it doesn’t matter if I am late. People banded together to spread news about canceled buses and groups of travelers trudged down the middle of white car-less streets.

Extreme weather rearranges priorities and slows time, fills it with a feeling of magic and inevitability. Control is relinquished because the weather has taken over the wheel, and we are left to concentrate on the only things that were ever important anyway, but that we so often lose sight of in the hail of daily life’s errands and “responsibilities.” Stay warm. Eat. Snuggle up under piles of blankets with your friends and tell stories until you’ve all drifted off to sleep.

0 Comments on “white noise

  1. I wonder how close our feelings are during extremes of cold to those thoughts that cascaded through the minds of our ancestors 13,000 years ago as the last ice age crept upon them, the snow outside the caves piled ever higher, the migration patterns of the large animals were disrupted, and the outcrops of obsidian were harder and harder to find under the never-melting snow. We are the progeny of heros and heroines: those few who survived the ice, and then the floods. I pray that you have lots and lots of wood, and an alarm clock to wake you up before the fire burns out.

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