Cold and a Cold

It is 23° below zero this morning and the weather station says the wind chill is -46° F. It’s frigid. The timbers of the house thud as they contract in protest. Last night when I walked the dogs by moonlight before bedtime, my boots squeaked on the snow and the hairs inside my nose froze with my breathing. The nose-hair-freezing sensation is the signal that winter is really here. At such temperatures the dogs are extremely efficient so we can all scamper back to the warmth of the house.

I came down with a cold on Christmas evening and so we did not go to Connecticut on the 26th to see Amanda, Jon, and our new grandchild, Ami. We now are planning to go January 1st, picking up Lucy in Albany on the way.

Lucy left Tuesday evening to fly out to the biathlon team trials in Minnesota. Though she’d only had two fever-free days, her ticket had been purchased and was non-refundable. It seems unlikely she can do well after her siege with flu but her friends were going and the experience in the biathlon world will be valuable.

Biathlon (ski racing combined with target shooting) is a small but meticulous and demanding sport. We happen to live in one of the few towns in the country where people train for it. Lucy attended a free invitational talent camp last summer and the other young women were so friendly and the coaches so encouraging that she is considering adding make the U.S. women’s biathlon team to her list of goals.

Lucy last summer

Her birthday present last fall was a lockable rifle case for traveling. The hard-shell case is lined with foam which had to be cut precisely to fit her disassembled rifle. Online I found multiple sites that explained how difficult this was and how to accomplish it — with an electric knife or with a hot-wire foam cutter, neither of which tool I had.

Lucy’s ride to the airport was due to arrive at any moment. I was starting to feel anxious when DH’s phone rang.

It was our friend, Gary. He lives in the Berkshires but was ice climbing down the highway, and he and his climbing partner had lost their car keys and were freezing. DH went down and brought Gary and John back to the house.

It was a mad scene: the dogs barking and jumping, Lucy packing frantically in the mudroom, John on the phone with AAA, DH making tea to warm the climbers, me trying to straighten beds so Gary and John could spend the night in a pinch . . . but all the while I was thinking with relief: Hooray! Gary’s here! He’ll help me figure out this foam!

And of course, he did. Here he is, about to attack it with me. We used a tomato knife.

Eventually Lucy and her rifle were safely packed and picked up. Gary and John borrowed our car to go to Gary’s cabin in a nearby town. DH and I had a quiet supper of Christmas leftovers.

Meanwhile, since a fortnight of temperatures below zero is predicted, naturally a heater in the farm apartment has failed. Our tenant is away. I could not reach the electrician so I purchased a space heater. The attic and the mudroom, being unfinished, also do not yet have functioning heaters. All of these spaces have water pipes. Each evening I walk around the house, opening doors to heat, checking thermostats and nudging them upward.

So far, so good.

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