We have just endured two days of incredibly low temperatures and I thank God that we are on our way out of this deep freeze. When I say low temperatures, I mean it didn't hit 20 degrees, even by mid afternoon. The mornings were in the below zero category. That is truly horrific in my book. There is no way I can entertain the thought of riding our horses in these temperatures. Even with an indoor ring at my disposal, the thought of removing the horses blankets, putting tack on them, then forcing them to poison their lungs with the nearly frozen air molecules is just cruel. No, I chose to take a break from work. Was it easy? Well, the first day (Friday) didn't seem so bad. I baked muffins for the first time in my life. Dried cranberry and orange zest muffins. Just what my expanding middle needs right now, but what the hell, no one can see my bulging mid drift through six layers of clothing. For our evening meal I prepared a pot roast, cooked with red wine, beef broth and a complicated bouquet garni, recipe a compilation courtesy of my good friend, Liz and the one and only, Julia Child. It simmered away in the oven for four hours and it was a sublime New England meal for a sub zero night. Before dinner was ready the dogs and I were restless, so after delivering a few carrots to my horse we headed over to the fields across the street and set out on what was meant to be a delightful interlude of fresh air and exercise. Needless to say, the whipping winds stole each breath of air as it was about to enter my lungs leaving me struggling for oxygen and feeling desperate and panicky after about 20 minutes. The dogs were oblivious to my plight, cavorting happily, barking and leaping ahead of me. I knew they wouldn't notice if I fell behind and succumbed to the elements (they are not Rin Tin Tin types), so gasping and choking, I pressed on. Did I remember my cell phone for this outing? Of course not. It was up to me to make it back and I felt as though I had conquered Kilamanjaro by the time I got back to the car. I didn't dare complain to Jonathan when I returned, because I knew I would get a speech laden with I told you so's, you're sick, blah, blah, blah. Whatever. Though I coughed a little more throughout the evening, I was happy that the day was over and I had hopes that perhaps Saturday would be a bit more hospitable in the temperature department. Long story short, it was worse, which left me at odds with what to do for the day. I could write, I told myself. Just looking at my work so far left me feeling like I was looking into a snake pit, so weakly I chose to avoid it. I certainly couldn't bake another tempting treat for me to pad my postier, nor did we need an elaborate dinner since we had tons of pot roast leftovers in the fridge. Then I remembered that we needed new sheets and a toaster! That's it, we could go to the Mall! To my surprise Jonathan agreed that this was a good idea, too. When we left our driveway at noontime, the car told us it was 7 degrees. Single digits and still windy. The Mall beckoned and we listened to its siren like call, driving into Poughkeepsie like icey zombies. Our shopping was well planned and we did quite well with the current sales. I accepted that there was some satisfaction to be had by indulging in retail therapy on occasion.
Thinking of lightly crisped toast as I nestled into my freshly made bed, all shiny and soft with the new sheets, I slept blissfully. Until 4 a.m., when I awoke feeling anxious and useless after two days of not working, spending money and not writing a single new word on my story. I fell back into fitfull moments of slumber, chock full of non-sensical, disturbing dreams and finally gave up at 6:30 (to the animal's delight) to get up, start coffee, feed pets and get back to work. But it was only -1 degree outside. Stifling sobs, I ignored the temperature, wrote a few halting sentences and after three cups of coffee it had gradually worked its way up to the mid teens by 11 a.m. Jonathan headed off to teach a few hardy souls in Lakeville and I trekked to the barn up the hill, anxious to touch a horse and DO something, anything that involved my chosen vocation.
Well, if you've made it this far into this sorry diatribe of my last two days of agony, then you are a far more brave soul than I had anticipated. Looking back it wasn't really THAT bad. Think of the poor folks in Haiti. Jeez, I am a wuss. Stupid, spoiled, well fed and clothed. And I have new sheets and a brand new stainless steel toaster. Enough complaining. I think it's out of my system. Now about my cough? I sense a doctor's appointment in my future, but as long as I can keep riding, walking the dogs and cooking somehow I'll make it through the winter. Take those things away from me and hello padded room and strait jacket.