Sweat at my hairline and whir of fan cooling me, I sense my roots digging deeper into the soil of this blessed Paraguay. She’s home now.
Still, something about spending more than two decades passing these January days in snow covered landscape fills my heart with a strange longing for winter.
Suddenly, as if the beggar, I mount wish’s horse and am transported to the place where snow angels rest and leftover candy canes swirl in steamy hot cocoa. It’s winter in January.
I see myself there at the back door, carelessly slipping into dad’s packs. Mine fit too well and I don’t want to waste the time to pull them on.
I slip out the door and run quickly to the wood pile, shivering as I go, snow’s squeaky crunch trailing behind me. I grab two large logs, followed by few smaller ones. Arms full of food for flames hungry belly, I hurry back to the house.
Stamping feet at the door, I loosen snow’s pack. Sliding off dad’s boots, I slow my pace and head to the living room. Basking in the warmth of this home of mine, I dump more of the same into the wood box.
I stop a moment, warm my hands and see the old black cast iron kettle on top of the stove. She needs a drink so I quench her thirst. Then turning my back on her, I sit on the edge of the hearth till my back is hot and my bones unfrozen.
At first, I’m surprised that my longing for winter has brought me to this scene. Bringing in the wood was a chore, not a sacred winter memory. Why hadn’t I been taken to Fire Bell Hill where all the town’s children wasted away hours sledding, or Christmas Eve the year mom wrapped a huge box of bricks to disguise dad’s new hammer?
Still, as I look back, I wonder if maybe bringing in the wood was something sacred, both powerfully comforting in it’s repetition, and holy in it’s simple service to family.
To family casually gathered in the living room, basking in the warmth of that old wood burning stove. To dad in that crazy turquoise green rocker, the one draped with a knitted afghan. To one sister curled up under a blanket, and another lost in her book. To mom smiling as she challenged dad to another round of Tetris. To hearts melded together by the warmth of memories and wood.
All at once, I realize, it’s not one trip to the woodpile that I’ve just revisited. It’s a thousand jumbled together. Their collective happiness rises and my heart is full. I’ve had my taste of winter and I’m riding wish’s horse back to reality, back to summer in Paraguay.