The Cruelty of the Cold

Dearest Rachel –

It seems ever since you left, the days have conspired to outdo each other in cold brutality. Even the day of the accident was forecast to be the coldest of the season to date: we were all bundled in jackets and parkas more heavily than we had been in years. Not that it helped when it mattered. And since then, we have been dealing with cold and snow the likes of which we haven’t seen in a number of years, either.

I think Greta Thunberg owes us some sweaters and firewood. Or Al Gore.

The Coldest Night of the Year – Bruce Cockburn

Three weeks in a row, we’ve been inundated with at least six inches of snow. This past weekend has been well into negative Fahrenheit territory. Yeah, I know our Canadian friends will laugh at me like I do at Texans who can’t seem to drive in a flurry, but just like the latter group crashing 100+ cars in a single pileup, it’s still a serious matter.

Mostly due to Chompers, who seems to need to go out every two hours during the day. At least, we’ve figured out how to set him up with a nightly routine such that he generally manages to sleep through the night (not last night, although . I wonder how much trial and error it took to get you to this point, and again, I find myself amazed that you managed to keep this up for so long.

Of course, he’s been getting older by the day, and at an increasing rate. I don’t know how long he can keep this up, never mind Daniel and I. Daniel has confessed, that as sad as it may be when the day comes to send Chompers over the rainbow bridge to see you, it will also (and we feel like such heels to say so) come as rather a relief.

But for now, I have to make sure that the driveway is shoveled down to the pavement as closely as possible so that he can get out there and take care of what he needs to without being up to his belly in fresh, cold powder. And seeing how short he is, that’s a challenge, especially with the fairly steady delivery of more and more snow since you left. And even with the turnaround driveway shoveled out, it’s still a frigid endeavor to stand out there with him for any length of time.

Not that he likes it much either, judging from his shivering.

So he tries to work fast, and we do likewise, bringing him in, wiping off his feet, and wrapping him in a blanket as soon as we can once we’re done drying him off. But we know that it’s only going to be so long before he starts whining about one thing or another, be it trying to sit or lie down on crossed legs, or needing a drink of water – which will of course start the cycle of having to go out all over again.

I don’t know if he’ll make it to spring. I’m not entirely sure if we will, at this rate.

Saturday, there was yet another snowfall, which, combined with the below-zero temperatures, had us decide to not even bother going out or doing anything. Well, aside from the whole ‘getting Chompers outside before he does anything in the house,’ which we weren’t entirely successful at. We’re going to need to restock our supply of Resolve and Febreeze pretty soon.

Sunday morning, I had my assignment in the booth for all three services. I took a little time to clear the part of the driveway that lay in front of me before getting in the car, and…



This was not going to work.

Thankfully, along with the ‘snow angels’ we have among people at church, I can also could on my sister and her family. It’s even possible that Bill is working in the booth with me this weekend, so I could hop a ride with him.

No such luck about working concurrently, but… as they have three cars, and one of their drivers if safely nestled at University, unable for now to leave the bubble around the uni… they were able to loan me one of their cars for me to drive for the day.

God does provide. And if you’re reading this, Jen, Bill… thank you.

Now, while I could rely on this largesse for another day (Jen’s off due to President’s Day, so they would again not be using their entire fleet of cars), I would prefer to have my own wheels up and running. And while I could always not bother to go to the office these days (ah, the joys of being more or less ‘retired’), I did have a commitment this evening, and it would be better to get the car running as soon as possible and put it through its paces before any absolute deadline crept up and flattened me.

I can’t say I’m a fan of the AAA response website. Every time I would refresh it, the expected arrival time moved backward just a little more, from 10:11 (why so precise, if it’s not going to happen?) all the way back to 12:35. Again, nice to not actually have to be somewhere – most of their clients wouldn’t have that luxury. And then, upon refreshing the request again, it showed “Arrived.”

A quick look out the door confirmed otherwise.

Further down on the site, there was a map that showed that the serviceman was about a mile-and-a-half away. Which was fine, but there’s no point to saying he’s “Arrived.” He showed up, we popped the hood, he hooked up this charging thing and punched a few notes into his iPhone or whatever, and said, “Okay, start it up.”

It started, just like that. Lovely.

“Now, just let it warm up for, I’d say, 30 to 45 minutes.”

Hunh. Again, I am so glad I didn’t have to be somewhere right away.

So here I am at the ‘office.’ Daniel is watching ‘Fairy Tale’ with Logan, so the house is under control. I’ll be heading out shortly, in order to make sure that I get to the every-other-Monday recording session on time.

And the folks come down to remind me that… it’s about to snow. Again. Yep, another six to eight inches between now and noon tomorrow

The level of slush already on the ground grows as I proceed eastward to tonight’s recording session. Some of this is just due to fact that the closer one gets to the lake, the more snow has already fallen. But it was snowing – ever so slightly, but it was happening – even as I left the house. We will not be spared.

And sure enough, as I head back after tonight’s session, the roads are fairly think with snow – and, not surprisingly, fairly thin with cars. It’s nothing that can’t be negotiated at 25, 30 mph, but definitely not at speed.

I notice some restaurants that would otherwise be open at least until 9 are closed – or maybe, thanks to coronavirus, they’re closed for good. Hard to say. At least the place the boys chose for me to pick up from is still open, and with the limited traffic, there’s not nearly the usual line in their drive-through, either. So there’s that.

I get to the house, and power through the layer of snow that’s already fallen (it looks like two or three inches thus far, so less than half the expected final total). I call for one or both of them to come to the door for their food, and head back outside to clear the driveway. Tennis elbow or not, this needs to be dealt with – Chompers will want – no, need – out at some point, and it’s got to be clear for him.

It’s quiet out here as I shovel, even though we live on this four-lane thoroughfare. And my mind wanders as I work. I think about Peter Cushing, Grand Moff Tarkin (or, as you’d assuredly prefer to think of him, the original movie Doctor Who), who, after his wife passed away, would run up and down the stairs in his home trying to induce a heart attack inorder to join her. Or of St. Phocas, who dug his own grave while soldiers slept in his house, unaware that the man whose hospitality they were enjoying was the very man they had been sent to execute.

Yeah, some of the weirdest things pass through one’s mind as one works, sometimes. I even find myself wondering if you’ve met either of these gentlemen by now.

As I finish, Logan’s car starts up – evidently, he’s headed home before the wprst of the storm hits. I wish him well, and head inside, only for him to follow me in; the bins I’d set up have fallen down, and are blocking his exit. My goodness, they’d stood for days in the middle of the driveway, why should they fall over just now that I’ve moved them to the curb? Daniel offers to right them, and I gratefully accept, falling onto the couch to assuage a whining Chompers.

Or at least attempt to. Repositioning doesn’t work, he won’t walk to his water bowl once put on his feet. Maybe he needs to go out. It’s been long enough, according to Daniel. All right, we can do this.

So I take him out, and note with dismay that the entire driveway has now been coated with about another half-inch of snow. I just came in about a half-hour ago, too.

It’s going to be a long night, dealing with this.

I know this is going to end, eventually. Spring is on the way, assuming the calendar still works in this topsy-turvy world I’ve been wandering in for the last three weeks.

But at the moment, it’s still cold, and dark, and thick with flying snow.

And it doesn’t seem like it’s ever going to end.

And just like that, I know I’ll see you again, honey. But it seems like it’s going to be such a long time before that. Full of snow, wind, darkness and brutal cold.

Now I’m sitting here alone, and sleeplessly wondering where you are

And wishing you were here / On the coldest night… of the year.

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I am Rachel's husband. Was. I'm still trying to deal with it. I probably always will be.

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