Jilly D.

As the cold strengthens, the days lengthen

In Grief, Holidays, Time and seasons on December 23, 2010 at 12:41 am
Sam in winter

Sam coming in from the cold from chores

Yesterday marked the shortest day of the year. With the arrival of winter comes a few minutes more of daylight each morning and afternoon. Small consolation.

I can hear Sam complaining about the cold temperatures and wicked winds we’ve had lately. Every time I walk in the door with the dogs here in my new cottage, I still hear his familiar refrain.

“Close the door. You’re letting all the heat out!” he’d say. With a fire going in the old cookstove and one in the Ben Franklin, Sam would have the temperature 80 degrees indoors by dinner time. It would take all day to get the fire going good and strong.

Reyes Syndrome is more common than you think. Sam sufffered from it since a young age, his mother told me. His extremities go numb; poor circulation. Cold weather made it worse. Even on the hottest days in summer if he jumped in the pond, his fingers and toes would turn blue very quickly. Feels like frostbite.

Sam wasn’t a complainer but he did grumble about the weather. He told me once that he was the luckiest man alive because the only thing he had to complain about what was the weather.

“Come here. Come over here, Jill,” Sam would say sometimes while I’d be cooking dinner or washing dishes. “Sit down here,” he’d say. “Do you realize the two of us have it made?”

Maybe it was my aprons that provoked his very serious declarations of contentment. He liked to talk while I was in the kitchen. Loved to watch me cut up vegetables. Mince fresh culinary herbs. I loved him back and we’d end up in each others arms; he gave tight bear hugs.

Sam taught me to be grateful for the gifts in our everyday life.

“How many people in the world do you think have ever done this?” Sam asked me many times. When we sat together in the pen with Sweet Pea, the white tail deer Sam domesticated from a fawn, he asked me. Grumpy, his first European Red Deer stag, got his antlers tangled into some wire and when Sam went into the pen and untangled him, he asked me. When he built a waterwheel himself from steel that turned true, he asked me. Bottlefeeding bison calves, Sam asked me.

Our everyday life was extraordinary and I have a lifetime of sweet memories to keep me warm this winter.  Each day longer to savor the season of old photographs, memories, my spinning wheel and knitting needles and Sam’s love.

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  1. Not many people get to bottle feed a bison or take care of tamed deer. Which makes it all that much more lovely.

  2. We had wild west adventures in upstate New York farming sustainably and off-the-grid. No one can ever take those memories from me.

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