as if in a sauna
Saturday, January 21 2006
Statistically, today is the coldest day of the year in our climate. The days are longer now, but all that cold of all those really short days has finally caught up and now it's time to suffer. The really brutal cold, with temperatures below -20 degrees Fahrenheit, have a chance of occurring in a swath of days about three weeks wide running from January 12th to February 2nd, and the coldest days on record all cluster right around January 21st. Or at least, that's normally how it is.
But today temperatures rose up into the mid-50s. We could leave the front door open without consequence, since we had all the benefits of nice weather without any of the flying insects that usually go along with it.
Since tonight Gretchen and I would be hosting Gretchen's birthday party, for the past few days Gretchen had been preparing a variety of finger foods. Today I contributed my part to the party preparations by launching something of a cleaing jihad, a task made easier by the great weather. I even took a load of trash to the dump, which was mobbed by dozens of other Hurley residents having the same idea. The Hurley dump is a cultural crossroads, and one can often see the unexpected there. Today, for example, some tough-looking dude rolled up in a big shiny pickup truck festooned with flags and perhaps ribbons, but then I noticed he was cranking the local NPR station. I guess if it can be 55 degrees in the Catskills on January 21st, anything can happen.
One of the young guys who works at the dump obviously took delight in a seemingly-insignificant score he made from someone's bag of unsorted trash. He reached in and pulled out an eight-inch-long scrap of copper pipe, complete with a brass valve. He looked at me as he did so and silently mouthed the word "copper," having no idea that I too am a huge fan of this particular metal.
Gretchen actually had to teach a three hour class at the local community college this morning, and by this evening neither of us were in the mood to host a party. But the thing about parties is that you plan them when you're feeling a desire to have one, not knowing how you'll actually feel on the day of the party itself. (Actually, though, Gretchen had anticipated this feeling when she first became aware of the fact that she'd be teaching the morning of the day of the party.)
But once people started showing up and we began drinking, the party didn't seem like such a drag. It's actually not nearly as fun to host a party as it is to attend one, since the social responsibilities of a host are the sort that keep him or her from having anything other than superficial interactions with his or her guests.
As for me, I concentrated most of my socializing on the guests who aren't normally part of our scene; particularly our older downhill neighbors. The bulk of people at the party were vegetarian or vegan animal rights fanatics, you see, while our downhill neighbor spent most of his life as a butcher. Indeed, tonight he told me about a head cheese he'd made earlier today. The poor guy couldn't find anything sufficiently fattening in our spread of finger foods (which were mostly vegan), so he stuck with the beer and booze.
Meanwhile I'd managed to get a raging fire going in the woodstove, the hottest fire I'd ever yet attained. The temperature reported by the thermostat across the room was 80 degrees Fahrenheit, but nearer the stove it was well into the 90s. I expected the animals to shun such a hot fire, but they loved it, lolling about on the floor around it as if in a sauna. By now winds were howling as a cold front passed through and temperatures dropped down to near freezing outside, but the brisk outdoors made for a pleasant periodic relief from the heat in the living room.
At some point I took some of the guests up to the laboratory to smoke some pot from my long-neglected stash. But it seemed it was mostly past its expiration date. It smelled like marijuana but it had no pharmacology to offer.
Eleanor with her goofy Shakespearean anti-licking barricade.
A vegetarian, a Buddhist, and a vegan Buddhist size up the spread.
Another vegan Buddhist with that vegetarian from before and (in the background) a fly fisherman. That orange loaf was a delicious pimiento vegan thing Gretchen made.
For linking purposes this article's URL is:feedback
previous | next