|The riffle, looking across from the cottage. Notice how the mist has frosted the small bushes.|
This morning, after an exordium of pitiful moans and groans due to a decrepit body apparently in all-out revolt, I finally dragged my carcass from bed at 6:30 a.m. Whereupon, in a posture resembling that of Quasimodo, I gimped into the great room to start the coffeemaker. The thermometer outside the window read a measly 4˚F—which for you Celsius folks is -15.55˚. Cold by anyone's scale.
|Snow on bankside hackberries.|
Twenty minutes later I had breakfast ready and called Myladylove to arise and dine—an invitation which had to be repeated several times at increasing volume, seeing as how she was buried like a hibernating woodchuck under many layers of blankets. Eventually, sharp mutterings—muffled, but doubtless uncharitable—emanated from beneath the stack of covers. I understood their cause, though I confess an inability to suppress a smirking moment of fiendish satisfaction when her subsequent efforts to get up prompted a series of poignant wails and whimpers. Misery does love company.
|The view upstream…|
The reason for our shared wretchedness came from what we'd put ourselves through the day before—though not all of yesterday's ordeal was directly our fault.
The day began with Myladylove's 8:00 a.m. dentist appointment to have the permanent cap on a cracked molar installed. The appointment's early hour necessitated leaving the cottage at 7:15 a.m. since the tooth fixer's shop is several miles beyond the far side of town. This, of course, necessitated getting up at an hour which even owls and early risers would deem the dead of night. We did so…dutifully, though not cheerfully.
|A graceful curve of ice and water, while warm sunlight reflects off sycamores.|
At the dental office, after two hours of fiddling, it was decided the intended permanent cap did not meet our perfectionist dentist's standards. Another temporary was made and installed. At which point Myladylove—now frazzled of nerves and numb of mouth, popping Tylenol like a squirrel snarfs peanuts, whipped out the Christmas gift list and we set off to fulfill our shopping plans. This side of town boasts multiple sprawling indoor malls, dozens of strip malls, and about a gazillion retail establishments—offering a selection of merchandise limited only by physical endurance and credit limit.
|Ice, water, and frozen riffle stones, colored by the sunrise.|
I can't tell you the details of what we didn't find, seeing as how unauthorized, prying eyes might read this field report. Let's just say that an astonishing percentage of items on our list were not to be found on the shelves. At 2:00 p.m. we broke for lunch. About three-quarters of the way through our meal, Myladylove said "Uh-oh," and deposited her new temporary tooth cap in her palm.
"Call the dentist, " I said. "At least we're still on his side of town."
The dentist said he'd see her at 5:00 p.m. We hadn't meant to stay out that long, but then we hadn't figured on such unsuccessful gift shopping…or a temporary temporary. Now we had more time to shop. Oh, boy!
|Looking downstream at a lot of slush.|
A dozen additional stores gained us no ground whatsoever on our gift list. Exhaustion began taking its toll. On the off chance of Myladylove's getting in before the scheduled time, we headed to the dentist's early. She went inside, I remained in the car, engine and heater off, radio on, watching the last of the day's light turn orange and fade into the west. After the first hour of waiting, a weather station reported 10˚F; I estimated it was possibly 11˚F inside the Jeep, then snuggled deeper into my L.L. Bean Expedition Parka while thanking every goose for even a single contributed feather. Twenty minutes later, Myladylove, sporting a new temporary—one presumably now thoroughly glued in place—reappeared. "Let's hit a few more stores on the way home," she said.
Had the dentist given her some "happy pill" version of Tylenol? If so where were mine?
We arrived back at the cottage just this side of 9:00 p.m. Moon the Dog was glad to see us—and even more glad to dash for the side yard. I could hear her relieved sigh all the way from the back door. I made hot cocoa and warmed bowls of Sunday's soup. We collapsed onto the couch, listened to a CD of carols while finishing our drinks…then staggered off to bed.
|Downstream sycamores lit by the rising sun.|
I shot these photos of the river this morning, soon after Myladylove managed to get herself off to work. I thought the least I could do was stagger around the yard awhile, camera in hand. Double-click if you want to see any shots bigger.