Monday, December 04, 2006

Baby It's Cold Outside

It's almost noon here and we're struggling to get out of the single digits. The moaning of the wind mixes with the freshly-fallen snow to create a tundra-like atmosphere that blasts you full in the face when you walk outside. Yesterday afternoon I had to get out for a bit so I snapped a few photographs including two guys who were lacing up their skates beside the bridge I cross over to the main campus. Fortunately, the wind was down at that point.

It wouldn't be so bad except that just ten days ago I was home where it was close to 72 degrees Fahrenheit and I was walking around in shirt sleeves. Here, I've finally donned the yellow goose down parka and the heavy snow boots. I may look funny but at least I'm not freezing when I go outside. The apartment includes a fireplace which I have taken to using on a more frequent basis. One of the monks has split and stacked wood for us at the top of the hill, so I fill up a cardboard box outside my front door every day.

The intense cold makes one want to sleep, or at least curl up with a good book. I just finished reading over the weekend Timothy Egan's The Worst Hard Time, an account of the "dirty-thirties" in No Man's Land (the American Dustbowl). The perseverance of these people and the enormous power that the landscape threw at them is almost beyond belief. It made my encounter with the cold seem almost bearable. At least I didn't have to huddle in a hole in the ground or burn buffalo chips for fuel.

At Morning Prayer, I sat next to Kathleen Norris, an author whose works I've used regularly in class (Dakota, Cloister Walk, Amazing Grace, etc.). Unlike most mornings, I caught myself starting to nod off in the silent times after the readings. I had an awful image of falling asleep in choir, knocking my head against the railing, and blood spurting all over me, the monks, and Ms. Norris. After lunch today, I think I'll retreat from the library back to my apartment, get a rip-roaring fire going, and return to my reading. Many more such visions and I'll be ready for a vacation in the Bahamas.