My fingers are stiff from the cold. I’m just back from a walk around..sent the kids off in their dad’s car to a day of snowboarding at Wachussett with school, dropped the van off at the shop for some headlight investigation, having been pulled over last night for a headlamp out, only to make things worse when we tried to take it out and put it back in, after which neither low beam worked and both high beams did..go figure, plenty of light for seeing long distance, for country roads, none for close traffic in and around the city, where we live.

Walking back home from the shop, down the hill towards my home, I realized I had time for a walk, kept on going past the house, down the street, turned towards the Brook, only to shift gears again, through the church property to the path along the parkway, crossing over to the other side at the light, then down to Mass Ave, where I turned toward the coffee shop, walked along til I could smell it roasting, debated a cup, turned again along an old familiar route down Teele Street, where the houses get a little funky and I can admire a porch full of books, a purple mansard, a mirror collage Christmas tree on the front porch of a place I know well, back towards the brook on a path I rarely take, along the brook aways, then back over the parkway towards home, sky clear as a bell, sun shining bright, cold stiffening my fingers and burning my nose so much along the brook I rub it with my bare hand, thinking frost bite, having left the house for a one block walk without gloves or scarf, keeping moving, keeping warm.

At home I have just enough time to write here to sip the juice glass of leftover smoothie from my kids’ breakfast treat, to make a piece of Hungry Ghost toast from my Northampton beau, to spread it with maple cream from the farmer’s market near my mom, to drink the now cold tea, and to prepare for the day.

It’s been a rare day I’ve perambulated the neighborhood before work, after sending kids off to school. Today there were other things I could have done, but I chose this, small celebration of handing in my taxes yesterday, of having had a fine weekend in Western Mass, of having the kids back home after a week apart, of the start of another work week, shortly, downstairs.

Yesterday morning I woke up in Northampton, with time for breakfast with my beau, also tea and toast, at his kitchen table. The house was quiet when I left around 8:30 and it struck me that for 19 years in my home, 8:30 has meant day care. Five days a week, forty eight weeks a year the energy builds in my home between 8 and 9, until the place downstairs is full of action, children, teachers, parents, toys, noise, calm, whatever it is, other than weekends, snow days, and vacations, that’s a long run of a full house.