There is a treasure of golden light washing across the river. Some might say it is just another dawn arriving from over the little hill to the east, but I say it is a sign of priceless days ahead.
Of course, all days are priceless—each more valuable than the one before simply because our individual allotment now has one less in the queue. After a week of various doctor appointments, an outpatient visit to the hospital, a couple of business meetings, the usual writing deadlines, and several days of intermittent Internet service—not to mention the lingering effects of my Christmas cough et cetera, which eventually necessitated a full day's bed rest, and may require another down day before I've shaken the thing—I've finally made it back to my desk…at least temporarily. I can't say I'm starting off the week bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, but I'm at least vertical and optimistic.
It has snowed again since my last post. Not much, maybe an inch or a bit more, just enough to cover the grass with an unbroken layer of white. Along with the snow came cold—15 ˚F as I write this, though early yesterday morning, it got down to 7˚F, the coldest day we've had so far this winter. River pools and back eddies are forming slush, and places where the water is still already have a mirrored lid of clear ice.
Early this morning, when I stepped out to allow Moon the Dog to go snuffling off into the pre-dawn darkness while I checked seed and suet feeders and scattered a couple of scoops of cracked corn on the ground, I noticed a surprising dampness—unusual when temperatures are this low. Typically, I only notice a dampness to the cold when it's within a degree or two of freezing; colder is drier. Maybe it's just me and my compromised respiratory system.
Yesterday I fixed a cassoulet in the small cast-iron Dutch oven I received as a Christmas gift. Cassoulets aren't difficult, nor do they take much prep work, but they do require time. One of the secrets to this most famous of French dishes—essentially a bean and meat stew—is the hours of slow cooking which renders the beans creamy without breaking them apart, all the while melding the flavors of the various vegetables. Served with a golden pone of homemade corn bread, it was the perfect fireside meal on a snowy January day.