Tuesday, March 11, 2008
There is Snow On the Cold
Maria tells me this, "There is snow on the cold," in confidence, cautioning me. Either I have acclimated to the temperatures which are as high as 25 degrees and dip as low as 8 degrees Fahrenheit, or I am stoopid. I leave the house without gloves, with barely a jacket, something light, like you would wear on a brisk walk in Autumn, and then I declare, "It's cold." Then I laugh, because I think it's funny to forget that a sweater is not enough for the last days of a long Winter, for Wisconsin or Illinois. I like the cold. I like the snow on the cold, and the bare trees, the dark icy rivers, moving slowly in the early morning, then rushing cold and agitated over rocky places. I am not overlooking the obvious point that we have endured one mild week of Winter, with the knowledge that tonight we will be in So Cal, where, doubtless, it is warmer. I am not forgetting that I do not commute in snow, or shovel it, or send children to school in it, so my infatuation with Winter and heaps of fluffy white flakes, of icy beauty, is perhaps tenuous. Nonetheless, I will enjoy this moment, this brief encounter, and I will stand by my flimsy assertion that I do love the Midwest in Winter.
I love barns and silos and the yellow stumps of corn stalks frozen to the black earth. I love frozen ponds, like spilled milk. I love the sparkle and light that shines on the snow, and the hush that falls when you can stand alone, far from roads and traffic. There is no quiet like snow quiet. I love the sound of snow under my shoes. It crunches and succumbs. I love feeling very cold, exhilarated, and the relief of rushing in to a warm home, the comfort of our luxuries, like warm zucchini bread and indoor plumbing. I love old places, homes and towns, with stories and people to tell the stories. These places are rich with textures, creativity, love, reverence and some intangible quality that makes me pine for connectedness and place.
There will be so much for me to ponder and to share. I have taken a lot of pictures, which cannot be a surprise and I look forward to posting them. This has been a long, varied and full adventure. Were we in the redwoods, San Francisco, sledding in Rockdale, marveling at the delights of an Illinois basement?
I wish I had taken more pictures. It seems like I will miss not having more pictures of cows and buildings, frozen lakes, art on walls, and people. I love pictures of people, of moments shared with families and friends. Somehow my memories, alone, seem inadequate for revisiting laughter, exchanges, colors, shadows, the beautiful way Griffin's eyes speak... it is one of my favorite pleasures to look at pictures and share them, and enjoy the memories of being with wonderful people.
If I weren't shy, I would have taken more pictures last night. We were in Margie and Howard's home. We drove passed so many homes, riding through the suburbs of Chicago, and the old homes are so intriguing to me, they capture my imagination. Driving in the cold dusk of evening, in a strange place, passing homes with soft lights and smoke rising in ethereal tendrils from worn brick chimneys... it was such a comfort to see Margie standing on her own porch, expectant and welcoming. I never underestimate the pleasure of being welcomed into a home. This home is captivating. It is a family's home, unpretentious. It celebrates the natural art of living and upholds thought, creativity, security, the past, the present and hopeful anticipation for what is to come. That is what I saw. Pictures and drawings, paper sculptures and comfortable chairs, Rebecca's big glass, that her mother keeps in the cupboard, and the books on the shelves, the delicious smell of a home cooked dinner... everywhere there were indications and reminders that this home is a nurturing and kind place, meant to keep out the cold.
I wish I had asked everyone to sit together in the living room for a family picture. A picture with our children, and Margie and Howard and their children, their children's spouses... David, Rebecca and Mike, Sadie and Jim. We spent the evening spread throughout the house, sharing memories, listening, visiting the basement... a basement can be a really awesome place... we ate fresh cookies, and laughed about chickens and roosters, and crossing borders with empty pockets, how sometimes things just work out. I wish I had taken more pictures.
Lovely homes, comfortable places, lovingly reflecting the lives and paths of the families who keep them... it's been our privilege to share these in Soquel and Stoughton, in Oshkosh and Geneva, in Cambridge. Tonight we fly back to California, with full suitcases, and new ideas, with memories of time well spent. Already, I am looking forward to returning to the Midwest, to snow on cold, or perhaps fireflies and kayaking.