Of Reindeer Skins and Dreams of Summer

Dearest Rachel –

I found myself dreaming of summer last night. Nothing special, no remarkable scenes I can remember or tell you about. Just warmth and… yeah, that’s pretty much it.

I think it comes from too many reindeer skins.

You know what I’m talking about. It’s been a long-standing family joke, ever since my folks got back from their stay at the Ice Hotel way up in northern Sweden some fifteen or so years ago. The whole place is rebuilt every year (because, you know, summer comes even to the Arctic Circle eventually), but is entirely constructed out of ice. And it’s different every year, too – rebuilt with different architecture and layout. It’s really quite impressive.

But for all that, I couldn’t imagine staying in a place like that. How would anyone be comfortable sleeping in a place where the concept to ‘room temperature’ isn’t a thing? Forget the fact that the bed is a solid block – like sleeping on a stone – the darn thing is literally frozen solid! I get that it’s one of those bucket list kind of things, but it’s not the sort of thing I could feasibly wrap my head around.

And that’s okay; there are things that appeal to certain people, and not to others. In fact, literally everything in the world is like that. Just like my constant assertion that what is mundane for one person might be exotic to the next, what is appealing to one might well be abhorrent to another. We can’t have it where something is universally adored; it’s just not possible. Even if something were to approach that level, there would be some folks who would refuse to like it simply because everyone else does. That’s just the way of things, after all, and I challenge anyone to find fault in our diversity of opinions on these matters.

But back to the question of comfort; the folks insisted that it wasn’t nearly as unpleasant as I might be visualizing – which, given my imagination, wouldn’t have been a high bar to clear, but still. The beds were actually comfortable and even reasonably warm, because they were piled high with reindeer skins; furry and soft, they manage to mitigate both the stony rigidity of the bed itself and the frosty temperatures in the room.

And so, we would pile blankets and comforters on our own bed at home – since the master bedroom was one of the additions to the house, and therefore not connected to the HVAC system (such as it was) of the original structure – and refer to them as our own ‘reindeer skins.’ It wasn’t a perfect arrangement – even now, as I’ll be telling you about – but it did the job, and kept us warm during the winter months, when the room was (despite all of the efforts of our faithful wall-mounted space heater), to put it charitably, brisk. Even after discovering that a window had been cracked open for what might have been years – and closing it more or less straightaway thereafter – hasn’t remedied the fact that the room is noticeably more reflective of the outside weather than any other room in the house. So those ‘reindeer skins’ still come in handy.

The problem is, it’s hard to calibrate how many are needed to feel comfortably warm. Add to that my thick terrycloth robe, and you can probably see how I manage to wake up practically sweating from the heat. But it’s hard to determine how much, and which, to remove. It’s like that scene in Amadeus:

Of course, it’s probably not just the excessive heat that’s causing me to dream of summer. There is the fact that all the pleasantness that winter tends to bring – the beauty of the first snow, the celebration of the various winter holidays – are all already behind us, and I’d just as soon move on to warmer days… except I know full well they won’t be upon us for at least the next two months. Even the vacation I’ve started planning for myself won’t be until the middle of March, when everything will have (most likely) already melted, and we’ll be on to spring in all but the balance between night and dark. But I suppose one can still dream about those future days.

And then, there’s the fact that I’d just as soon skip over the next week or so.

It’s not so much the weather, although it does play into it. And while I’ve been remembering you, and talking with you by way of these letters, it’s coming up to that time when everyone is – by virtue of offering their support – reminding me of the anniversary of your homegoing. It’s hard enough to deal with the empty house, and my difficulties in relating to Daniel these days; the additional reminders, while touching, are almost too much so – they reach into my very soul, and squeeze it, hard. I don’t know if I’m ready to deal with that.

And so, I don’t mind telling you that summer can’t come soon enough.

But until then, I’ll just keep myself wrapped in reindeer skins and memories, and hope that will be enough to keep me warm for now.

Published by randy@letters-to-rachel.memorial

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

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