Dead Calm and Two Degrees

Yesterday, on February 1, a light snow fell softly until about noon. In the backyard, chickadees, nuthatches, and titmice clustered at the feeders. A downy woodpecker tapped at the diminishing suet—I need to buy more next week. Later a red bellied woodpecker came to the brown feeder. They are recent arrivals to central Maine, and it still surprises me to see one in the backyard.

With some trees bare and other trees dark green against the snow, the woods stand at the edge of the yard. The landscape seems so quiet, so still. I have always found January and February in Maine to be soothing. This year is no different, and I need it more than ever.


I also need the company of like-minded friends—tea with Paul and Judy this afternoon. On Sunday, brunch with Beth and John. Clif will make his delectable waffles, right at the table, and the waffles will be served piping hot with plenty of butter and real maple syrup to put on top. On Monday, a visit with Esther after I drop off two copies of Maya and the Book of Everything at the Vassalboro Public Library—one for the library and one for the director.

Today, the sun is shining, making the snow on the trees look white and fluffy, almost like frosting. So beautiful, which is one of the reasons why I love winter even though I don’t play outside anymore.


Despite the sun, it was very cold this morning—below 60° inside– and it was hard to get out of bed.  The fire in the wood furnace didn’t hold through the night, and when I looked at the thermometer outside the dining room window, I could see why. Two degrees above zero, but fortunately—to borrow from that great outdoorsman Dick Proenneke—it was dead calm.

Clif went downstairs to get the fire started. On went the gas heaters, and on the stove, a kettle of water began to steam. Soon there would be tea and toast made from homemade bread, and the best simple pleasure of all, a sweet orange to go with breakfast.

Despite the clamor of the outside world, life at the little house in the big woods continues to be good.




23 thoughts on “Dead Calm and Two Degrees”

  1. It is the simple joys that sustain us. I’ve been finding excuses to go and stay outside, either walking the dog or trimming bittersweet and multiflora rose brambles. I always feel happiest out in nature where I find renewal and peace!

    1. Johanna, I was thinking of you when I took a picture of that mug. I was pretty sure you would like it.

  2. I really enjoy the films about Dick Proenneke– PBS has made my world so much richer and deeper. It was so heartwarming to see you quote him. What a lovely winter breakfast.

    1. Brisk, as we would say in Maine. My husband is in your camp when it comes to coffee, but for me it’s always tea 😉

  3. Another Dick Proenneke fan! His books may be the most soothing I’ve ever read. He elevated simple pleasures to a high art. One of my husband’s junior high teachers knew Dick and used to talk about him to the class. I suspect that the teacher’s enthusiasm for Alaska contributed to my husband’s decision to move to Alaska some years later–although at the time the kids thought the teacher was a little odd.
    I love that fox cup too.

    1. Clif and I are certainly Dick Proenneke fans. He really was an amazing man. The circle of his influence is neat, from your husband’s teacher to your husband and then to the two of you when you moved to Alaska. I’ve read the books, and I also really like the videos, which Maine Public television often shows during pledge weeks. The fox cup was a Christmas present. We also got a moose mug, and they came from Stonewall Kitchen. Now, I have mugs aplenty, but I plan on putting together a set of these mugs. The owl will come next.

  4. Ah sure, you still play outside, just a little differently now– putting on your boots and warmies to head out and take photos in nature. Not exactly the same but it’s always evolving as we mature, maybe? 🙂

    1. Melissa, you are exactly right. Lots of evolving as we age, and that’s how it should be. No matter the age, still so much to savor and enjoy, just in a different way.

  5. I love the evergreens with the snow. On Thursday, when John and I were driving to Bangor, there were swirls of snow coming down from the trees with the sun shining through them – magical. Your little camera would have captured that. 2 below at our house this am, but there was no wind and the stars were beautiful.

  6. Brrrrrr! We too ran BOTH of our woodstove all day yesterday to finally doff the sweatshirts and silk long underwear (inside) by late afternoon. You can see our upstairs wood stove on the Instagram image I posted last night (those little square photos on the right column of my blog).

    1. Thanks, Oscar. I’ll take a look. Love the cold of winter, the burst that is spring, the warmth of summer, the blaze of fall. Guess I belong in New England 😉

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