Sippican Cottage



A Man Who Has Nothing In Particular To Recommend Him Discusses All Sorts of Subjects at Random as Though He Knew Everything

The Violet Days Are Here

It’s ten degrees, but it won’t last. The sun is retreating and dragging the thermometer with it. The violet days are here.

There was a moment before sunset when the sky and the earth and everything in, on, and between them turned this lovely purple hue. It’s an indescribable color. Light through a lens fashioned from a limpid pool, frozen. It can’t mean anything but cold to my eye. I don’t know how many bedrooms I’ve seen painted this color. It’s arctic looking, and the person that chose it always told me it was, you know ” a warm color.” Yes, it is, in the same way a walrus butthole planted on a floe is warm. To a lunatic, it might be warm.

But cold as a concept is not as bad as many make it. It is a fact, here. It will be below zero, day and night, for three days in a row. It will be ten, fifteen, maybe push twenty below zero at night. Winter is not fooling around anymore. So what.

Winter is a full time job in Maine, E. B. White said. But he lived Downeast, where it’s warm compared to here. But he understood. You have to look it straight in the face, and deal with it. You can’t go out in your socks and scrape the frost from your windshield with a credit card. I’ve made over 500 fires already, and I’ve only used one match, once, to do it. You have to prepare yourself for winter. It reminds you that you’re mortal, and that there are seasons, and those seasons have meaning. It shows you that your life will pass you by if you’re not careful. Winter is useful that way.

I see a great number of people talking about how they’re going to deal with a coming apocalypse. They’re going to hoard this and grow that. They’re going to be the Omega Man crossed with Johnny Appleseed. Forgive me, but life is plenty hard here, and I can’t help but notice you’re not moving in next door to me before the apocalypse. I doubt you will the day after. If winter is too much for you, I doubt you’re prepared for an army of zombie Robespierres or whatever it is you’re planning for.

I can’t say I like the winter. I’ve always been cold. Poor people are often cold, and I have been poor in my life. I’m not a fool and I don’t like misery. But I respect the winter here. It’s a worthy adversary, and so, goddamn it, am I. Bring it on.

15 Responses

  1. Yeah, first real cold here outside of Manchester, NH. I'm going up to Lancaster tomorrow, up Above The Notch, where it will still be 10 below and windy when I get there.

    I'm a less worthy adversary than I was.

  2. Being Winter’s worthy adversary AND preparing for the Barackolypse are not only compatible but downright badassery personified.

    Thinking Jeremiah Johnson…

  3. Over a half century ago I was poor, and everyone that I knew was poor, but I didn't know any fat people. I am still poor, as those who measure poverty measure it. I know a lot of fat people now.

    Odd, that.

  4. We've been single digit nights and trying to break twenty during the day for weeks here.

    Lot of inversion, twixt the mountains and the valley.

    Teens are cold. Ten is nasty. Five hurts the sinuses if you breath deep and zero below your lungs tell you to speak softer…

  5. The thing about winter is, that if you can survive it and learn how to live through it, it makes you feel invincible for a bit. You feel like you could bundle up, make a branch shelter and survive a night in the snow. Crazy, I know. But then again, when you've been through several weeks of -20 below temps and it warms up to 32 degrees, you run around in a tee shirt.

  6. For three glorious years I lived on Galveston Bay. I turned my air conditioner off for Thanksgiving, and I turned it back on at Valentine's Day. The main reason we ran the heater was just to burn off some of the humidity. I'd like to tell you I missed the cold and snow, but it would be a lie. I'm sorry. (If it helps, the house I lived in on the bay was scoured off the earth by Hurricane Ike.)

  7. Teens and twenties here in CT. I guess that sounds warm next to ME!
    Funny your mention of credit-card scraping. I just snapped in half my expired drivers license during a windshield scraping.

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