Evening chores after a cold snap

With our four-year-old asleep last night, the rest of my family went through the long process of donning insulated overalls, boots, headlamps, and other hardy clothing. We have as much protective gear as knights decked out in full battle regalia, and putting it on takes us longer than it might because we start to procrastinate a bit before venturing out on winter evenings. The kids have a story to tell about their day at school and we all have to stand totally still and listen to it, or I urgently need to check something on the computer. Someone puts everything on and then decides it’s time to visit the restroom.

We finally got outside though. After several nights of below zero temperatures, we marveled at the luxury of the weather. Our hands didn’t hurt. Our scarves were not covering our noses, and were not suffering because of it. I told my teenager that having the family outside on such a pleasant night made me feel like having a picnic, but she didn’t think we should get carried away.

As I hauled some water jugs, I found my 11-year-old lying flat on his back by the pump, watching the steam of his breath rise in the light of his headlamp. At first I worried he was hurt, but he was just enjoying himself and taking in the world. A kid does not do that kind of thing when they are miserably cold. It was a good sight, and I told him I appreciated that he was communing with nature but that he had to get up and help is sister.

“It’s 20 degrees out here!” shouted my husband happily as he pulled up in the pickup truck we use to haul feed. We hauled our buckets and jugs and then went back inside where the darkness doesn’t wrap around us, and we don’t need flashlights strapped to our heads to see what we’re doing. We peeled off our extra layers of clothes and tackled homework, laundry and dishes.

In retrospect, the outdoor chores seemed more fun than working inside. Only the end of a cold snap could make me so grateful for a dark and pristine winter night, and for sharing that night with my family.

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