A half-hearted sun is trying to break through the clouds today and shine upon ground that is encrusted with snow. Cardinals are visiting the bird feeder, making a colorful spot of red in an otherwise bleak landscape. Trees lift bare arms to the sky as if in supplication to the sun for its warming rays.
The frigid breeze blows through the dry hydrangea stalks, making a rustling noise and rattling the dried blossoms. There is not much stirring today, as the wildlife seems to have found shelter in the barn, or snuggled up in the hay.
What a pleasure it is to come in after doing the farm chores, with red nose and tingling fingers, to a glowing fire and the fragrant smell of cinnamon coming from the oven. What a contrast to the icy outdoors and frozen ground. There is nothing like a blazing fire to warm the body and spirit.
I remember coming into the schoolhouse one wintry day, and my eye glasses fogged up when the warm air hit me. I took them off and held them over the open gas heater, and the flame licked out and set them on fire. "My glasses are on fire!" I exclaimed in horror. I threw them down on the floor and started to stomp the flame out. "No, no," shouted Mr. Hinkle, and he grabbed a wet mitten and smothered the flame. I guess I wore scorched frames the rest of the year.
I was pondering over the mishaps our family has had over the years, and some stand out in my mind. One time just before Christmas, Daddy was decorating the tree while Mom and I wrapped gifts in the junk room. Oh yes, we had a junk room! It was the room where Mom stored her home canned goods on three long shelves, plus storing various boxes of clothes, etc.
There was wire strung across one corner of the room, crowded with hangers of clothing. We never had a closet; in fact, a "closet" was what Grandpa called a Johnny-house. In the other corner stood a big feather bed, where the boys slept. (I digress, but I went to the hospital with my sister-in-law when she had her first baby, Lisa Ann. She was groggy with pain medication, and weary with her long labor. She kept telling me, "I just want to go back in the junk room and sleep!)
Daddy was trimming the tree at this time. We had nine-foot ceilings in the old house, and he always got a tree that touched the ceiling. He was very precise with the ornaments, and each one had to be placed exactly so. We kids got to put on the tinsel strings if we placed each one individually. Mom and I were engrossed with the gift-wrapping, when all at once we heard this thunderous crash. We rushed into the living room to find Daddy stretched out on the floor. He had fallen out of the Christmas tree! No, he wasn't hurt -- just his dignity.
There was another episode concerning the junk room that I had almost forgotten about. Mom had baked several pies for Christmas dinner, and placed them on the shelves to cool. For some reason, little brother Ronnie climbed up the shelves and managed to step in every one of them! I can't remember the outcome -- I just remember Mom mourning her pies.