There's a husky curled up on the couch. A husky ball is one of the coziest things there is, a world of comfort unto itself. Nose under tail wrapped around paws. The past week and more has brought a cold spell to the Interior, with temperatures in town reaching into the thirties and forties below zero, ice fog reducing visibility to zero in places. Out here at the Homestead, north of town in the hills, we've mostly stayed ten to twenty degrees above the valley where the town lies. One day last week, I came home from a twenty three below zero day to find the (relative) warmth of one point eight degrees below zero. Mostly we've been hovering in the ten to fifteen below range. This past weekend saw us dip to thirty below, but we are back to ten below now. The sky out here is crystal clear and you can almost reach out to pluck the stars from the sky. Driving into town every morning, and driving back home every evening, I encounter that invisible line of atmospheric density made visible in winter where the particulate of exhausts hangs trapped in the cold cold air. Ice fog has some water vapor to it, it can occur entirely of water vapour in pristine areas untouched by exhaust, but within Fairbanks it is certainly primarily made of exhaust. In the hills directly above town, you can look down at times in winter to the top of a lake of ice fog, buildings and roads entirely obscured under the cloud. It is as though a magical barrier exists, a containment wall made of atmospheric density and the difference in molecular kinetic energy. Cold spell, indeed.
We have moved into the downstairs of the house. Between the cold, carpooling through long days in town to accommodate theatre schedules and yoga classes, and heating primarily with wood in a woodstove that has developed a worrisome crack it makes so much more sense to consolidate our life around said woodstove. We have hung a curtain between the floors, and another partway down the hallway to block off the two extra bedrooms (as yet uninhabited by young humans), the studio, the library, and our bedroom. I mourn the loss of the studio to the cold, but have been promised guiltless use of space heaters on the rare days when I actually have the handful of hours to work on a project. There is a song by the Decemberist that has always been resonant to my darling man and me: "Crane Wife." It is sad, as many of their songs are, but it is a beautiful love story as well.
"I forced her to weaving, on a cold loom, in a closed room, we down wove."
Well, now my loom room is cold. We are currently sleeping on the pull out couch directly in front of the woodstove, but plan to move into the guest bedroom for the winter. This house is large for two people. It is a house in which to raise a family. So this season of dark and cold, we will live in the connected kitchen/living/dining area, one small bedroom, and the bathroom. Conveniently focusing our life and our warmth where the pipes are housed. This has the added benefit of clearing out our bedroom area so that we can pull up the old and wretched carpeting, lay flooring, repaint, sand and finish the windowsill, and build walls and a closet. Then build a real bed for our mattress, and move back upstairs sometime next year. Or, you know; the next. But for right now, there's a woman writing, a man reading, two dogs sleeping and two cats lounging within ten feet of the woodstove. And we are warm.