Hey, folks – it’s the last day of February, thank goodness … this time of year I get seized by inertia, and then annoyed at myself for spending my waking hours as if I were doing everything while submerged in glue up to my waist. Musette called it “snakes in the refrigerator” and that’s also apt. Hibernation. So, I set myself a writing prompt of the five senses…
Sight: It’s been windy and cold, so sometimes my walks are just a slow mosey around the neighborhood with Coco, both of us bundled up, plus longer solo walks if it’s not bitter cold, which it has been more than I’d like. This is the least attractive season here, everything’s dead brown with occasional snow. But I try to take in my surroundings on my walk, notice the details – there’s always something to notice. I love the sight of the ristras (dried chili pods) for sale near our library downtown, a frequent destination, and the clarity of our blue, blue sky, even in winter. Given how cold it’s been, I was shocked to see this lone daffodil, up in the front garden – about two months earlier than I’d have guessed! It’s a completely walled garden; having your entire yard behind a stucco wall that abuts the sidewalk is not uncommon here. Anyway, I figure the protective walls and their ambient solar heat create a little microclimate. I’m looking forward to seeing what else comes up in my first year at the casita. It’s still very much winter – right now with the wind chill it’s 23F – but that cheerful yellow flower gives me hope.
Sound: the soft hum of my cool mist humidifier. The wind outside. The odd ping of the hot-water baseboard heat, which is different than the familiar deep-toned knocking of my old East Coast iron radiators; these make more of a tapping sound, but man am I grateful it’s not forced air, it’s dry enough in here already. Music on, most of my waking hours – the local classical station, or curated playlists via my phone sent to my speakers. This is also new; I had years of the noise of family in the background, some more annoying than others, and stretches where I desperately wanted silence. Now that I’ve got it, I fill it with music.
Touch: the comfort of a ridiculously heavy alpaca blanket, and a thick German cotton flannel blanket underneath, over flannel sheets. I love the weight of heavy blankets in winter, squashing me. Coco, often right at my fingertips on the sofa or in bed, her soft warmth. The pages of a book in my hand – I realized this winter that I’d much rather have a physical book than my Kindle or an eBook from the library, although I’ll take them if that’s all I can get. I spend much of the day reading, most of it fluff/trash not worth naming; I’m also reading the delightful Mapp and Lucia (I’d lost mine somehow, thanks for the reminder, Tom!) and Deborah Madison’s What We Eat When We Eat Alone which Musette sent me, it’s full of whimsical stories about the sorts of things people eat when they’re feeding nobody but themselves. I had to laugh; I’m in no position to judge, but it’s no wonder that some people keep their heinous snack ideas a secret.
Taste: lots of wickedly hot and spicy stew over here, which I make and then eat until it’s gone. In contrast, my comfort food recently (featured in the eating-alone book, unsurprisingly) has been polenta, entire bowls of it — I make quick-cook from a box with milk, salt and butter, all of the joy and none of the thirty minutes of stirring. I finally realized it reminds me of cream of wheat, the comfort food of my earliest childhood, which my mother made if I was sick or sad, along with soft-boiled eggs on toast, another childhood comfort food I still turn to.
Smell: it’s probably seasonal allergies but my vial of patchouli was back to smelling like dirt, although it’s better today, so: patience. In the meantime, March is coming in like a lamb – it might briefly hit 60F later this week, the first time in months. Fingers crossed.
What are some of your senses telling you right now? Do you have any snack-treat ideas that embarrass you? Do tell! Remember, I’m the person eating bowls of cornmeal for dinner. My kids (and lots of other folks) think soft-cooked eggs are disgusting, as well as polenta. More for me, I guess.