I like these spells of extreme cold. It feels a little adventurous. I like to pretend we're in our house surviving against the raging, fierce elements outside. We kind of are. It's a little romantic, hunkering down, lighting fires, making forts. And when I do have to go outside (to start the car, get groceries or walk the dog), I wear gear reserved just for days like this: my goose down jacket (bought second-hand from a sled-dog musher), wool and rabbit fur hat, beaver hide and fur mitts, long johns, scarf across my nose. It feels like putting on a costume and, even though I am 30, I pretend I'm an explorer, wandering alone in the barren North, in search of supplies.
As I write this, the kids are watching a movie after paying face paint, and looking outside it appears warm. Sun shining, wind blowing softly. Across the screen of white snow out front, I see my home's shadow, notice the smoke coming from the chimney and dancing off into the sky. The fire crackles and burns beside me; soon everything will smell like campfire. Then I will go make pizza dough for heart-shaped pizzas, to share with my Valentines. A perfectly wonderful day to be kept in by the biting cold.
Part of what makes these cold days so exciting for me is the comfort in knowing I can stay inside and be warm, if I choose. I remember that there are those for whom this frigid cold is a real danger. Those without proper heat or insulation, those without proper homes at all, those without winter jackets, hats or mitts. I am grateful that these cold days don't threaten our comfort or safety, and with that measure of gratitude, I will whole-heartedly enjoy the banana blueberry muffins we baked, leaving the oven open after the heat the kitchen.