The time is January, 1978. Pick any day of that month. The blizzard started in late December and continued off and on thru January and we were snowbound all month! The farmhouse was old — pre-Civil War, and I always knew which direction the wind was blowing by looking at the curtains moving in the breeze. The heater didn’t stand a chance of keeping the large rooms warm, so I moved the kids mattresses into the central room and closed off the side rooms. Nothing like camping out in the comfort of your own home.
So, picture us on this day, gathered togther in the room with its wall to wall to wall mattresses, soup simmering in the crock pot that is plugged in to the wall near the staircase because the kitchen has also been curtained off for the duration, window and walls covered with the bright quilts I had made thru the years. The gold painted walls have a warm glow from the lights that are on in a futile effort to dispel the darkness created by the extra covering over the openings and my bookshelves, also painted — this time a warm rusty orange, like my favorite shade of Autumn leaves, are beside my hunter green chair, the floor to ceiling shelves groaning under the weight of the books I had collected over the years. The children are bundled in extra layers to keep warm during our fored inactivity.
Gina, thirteen years ols and already showing signs of the beautiful woman she has become is sitting on the mattress closest to the fire and wearing one of my flannel nightgowns for added warmth — the only one she hasn’t scorched the tail on, and covered with a green sweatshirt at the top and pink long johns underneath. She is totally engrossed in her current book — “Anna Karinina” and oblivious to all else.
Don, age 11, and Mike, age 10, are playing checkers on their own mattress, and wonder of wonders aren’t accusing each other of cheating. Behind them the sofa is shoved against the wall to give extra space for moving around when we had to.
The television is turned off at the moment and also shoved back against another wall next to the bookshelves. A pot of African violets has been sitting on top of the TV and blooming almost continuously since Edd brought it to me after Gina’s birth. Thirteen years and still living whie the many philidendrons I had tried to fill the room with, supposedly hardy plants that my Mother assured me even I would be unable to kill were only memories.
On the side table, sharing space with my cranberry colord lamp, is the book I am currently reading aloud to the family — “Willy Wonka And the Chocolate Factory”, plus the glass of tomato juice I need to sip continuously to sooth the throat that is unused to the reading aloud.
On this day the crock pot is filled with beef, potatoes, carrots, onions and celery, all bubbling away toward the stew we will have for supper. The time is mid-afternoon by my wach, but time stands still in our quilted cavern. With a small stretch of the imagination we could be in an igloo in Alaska waiting for Edd to bring in the walrus he harpooned for our winter pantry, or travelling thru Siberia with Anna Karinina, heading for the next icey palace.
This is something I wrote many years ago, memory of some days I still think of as the best time in our lives. About an hour later Edd returned home from the other farm where he had been breaking the ice on the ponds for the cattle, called the boys out to help him do the same on the home farm, and we all settled in for the evening, eating the now finished stew with the biscuits Gina heped me bake, and everyone was ready for story reading time.