The foggy dew on the window corners harden as icy wind flows into the room. The storm he entered for only a moment though it was moment enough to seep into exposed skin and rob his fingers of youthful dexterity. The cold is like that to all living things, causing even the young to creak and ache and shudder with the chilly misgivings of sleep.
But sleep is not what he seeked among the wood pile outside stacked high in the future hope of warmth. In fact, it was quite the opposite as he dug through the snow after the trees he felled upon finding them dead, dry, and forgotten. He was keeper of these woods and he paid that position the reverence it deserved. Even in his own struggle against that last frontier an empathy for all living things brought him back to the present moment. The way they smelled when it’s warm out and the inspired feeling of fresh baked bread as it steams on a cooling tray the picture of summer days and bubbly air. And yet even in this god-awful snow the cold seemed to make the woods smell that much more of the earth, like the nearby lake as the breeze brings in a pungency reserved for fertile earth and damp autumn leaves.
“Summer never leaves these trees,” he thought quietly. And indeed, once lit the wood relinquishes the tree’s memories of croaking frogs and lightning bugs and the rays of sunset caressing its bark and warming the nutrients that flow beneath it. So that even in the dead of the coldest winter nights, warm summer sunsets can be found glaring proudly from a blazing hearth still throwing sharp shadows around anything that gets in its way.
And it did so now, the snow tamped down on the mat in front of the door began to melt and run as his breathe reminded the flame of its own life. This early morning blue hue that filtered in through the many windows of the house brought on the look of cold and yet with each exhale the blue was merged with a bright flicker from the inside and together the atmosphere was that beautifully natural white.
It was soft, gentle light that would more readily bathe a photo on the granite countertop then wake a sleeping person and jostle them in their rest. No matter what, he loved how every inch of the house felt like his, every part holding the stories of peace in the everyday. It was comfort. The house made him feel as if he was in an endless embrace from the people he held most dear, a contentment seldom felt in the world outside. The cooking tools fit his grasp and the pots and pans and plates and cups he used were each, individually his favorite. He figures, “If you don’t like something, don’t buy it,” and thus his house and the contents within were familiar and have been used for a long time- over the course of his life so far.
Breakfast he thinks to himself, errantly scratching his dog’s ears as he does every morning, enjoying the companionship he feels even while being utterly alone. It’s okay for him, this moment, as the sun rises he will be given the strength to deal with the day but for now, his weakness is his strength. The melancholy relieves the weight of existence. The dogs and plants around the rooms reminding him he can care for life, even when that feeling evades him.
He enters the kitchen and with one button, the music begins to pull him from the cliff-edges in his mind. Placed purposely, the sound encompasses him, the waves of sound swirling and replacing the air around his body with an air of wistfulness. The snap of the fire ticking in time like a metronome counting down the days of the universe. It’s important that he easily slip into that deep melancholia for the alternative is binding, trapping, and steals away his strength in the form of mentally exhausting running on a hamster wheel.
He pauses to look up at the spices hung with care from the rack above and marvels at its uncanny similarity to a forest, upside down and swaying gently, but a forest nonetheless.
How amazing it is to find garlic kin to a forest he muses and smiles gently. Already, he knows, the early hours offer introspection not like evening. In the morning he is reborn to think not of past events of the day but future events as the day moves on as if he is naked then, sleep making him now blank enough for any thought to come through the fold.
He decides on simple, eggs, the sharp crack causing the dog to nudge closer and the sound of it frying and sizzling not unlike that of a roaring river nearby as it’s muffled through the trees. This one is not for him of course, but for the other sleeping inhabitant, the one he takes pride in knowing as if every-day he meets with them anew. With the morning comes the life of those around him as they wake and shake off sleep and blink absentmindedly in the diffused light. He finds simply the act of cradling warm mugs in cold hands beautiful and inspiring so that every day is a reason to fall in love with anything exhibiting those tendencies. People are fascinating in a way that one would pick a red rose and realize how intricately the pedals seem to spiral further and further into the center.
He likes the granite in the kitchen because every drop of spice and sauce and dry basil leaves paint the surface in rich, contrasting hues. It’s almost a shame to clean it up as if one is erasing the color placed lovingly on the blank surface. Cooking is an art form kin to the writing he does on blank pages of a notebook and the recipes he assembles on those white countertops are a story of taste and a new form of adventure he finds addicting and altogether alluring.
But, the finished product, the one placed on the gnarled wooden table, that is meant to be enjoyed with eyes closed seeing the colors of smoked paprika and minced parsley against the palate.
The whole house is like that really. The way pinecones smell of cinnamon and the spice rack permeates the kitchen and the adjoining rooms with unifying fragrances while the warmest room with the crackling fire smells of the forests history buried deep within the wood’s core.
It feels as if the whole world is here, the whole of existence and what should be seen as worthwhile kept for one’s amusement in homegrown garlic hanging from a spice rack, the wine bottles plentiful and yet used slowly, blissfully and always in conjunction with conversation that is rich and purposeful and fulfilling. It’s held in the way that although not now, every tool is meant to help explore. The food eaten helps power adventures, the fishing rods and tents and sleeping bags begging to be used on a faraway riverbank, the cameras to take photos of life outside the trapping walls, and the shoes and clothes and bags meant to be taken to the world so far away from here, this moment, this pause like a deep breathe in the chase of what it truly means to live.
I finish my food and hear footsteps enter the kitchen behind me and bare feet splash the dark floor with color. The clink of silverware comes closer, my reverie is broken, my focus disturbed, and yet, now, in this moment, it’s okay.
I can feel the smile trace its way across features that have done it a thousand times before as I turn around and say through the grin,
“Good morning, sleepyhead.”