Here comes January 2015. Seventeen degrees outside. Wind chill 12. Cold weather never bothered me much. But today it does. I’d rather stay inside, not move very much, become part of the couch, wrap myself in an old blanket, the pale blue one that’s been with me for years through good health and sickness, happy days and miserable ones, when it gave me refuge from the cold and from people I didn’t want to see.
A good old blanket. 100 percent wool. Why not donate it to a local animal shelter? They need blankets for their dogs and cats found lost and hungry along country roads or downtown. No, I’ll be selfish. It’s my blanket. Only for me and my dog, Nina. Nina came from Kent Animal Shelter in Calverton. As soon as she saw me from her cage she seemed to tremble and made herself look absolutely in urgent need of adoption. Ah, did I fall for it! Within an hour, after a 30-minute ride, she entered my house in Orient as if she’d signed a 10-year lease with no cancellation clause. This was 11 years ago.
Nina is asleep in the living room, eyes closed, safe. Now she wakes up, gives me that questioning look, raises herself slowly and jumps on the couch, where I settled to write my January column, laptop ready for action. The couch is no Victorian beauty on curvy legs. It’s a low, modern design that makes for easy jumps for Nina. Like me, she can’t jump as high as she did a couple of years ago. The low couch is good for her but not so good for me. It makes getting up more difficult. We can’t all win.
I am cold. Such a delicious privilege to make oneself warm. A sweater, two sweaters, a scarf. A dog. A cat, perhaps. Some down cushions. The amazing property of down to keep us warm.
I almost forgot. It’s time for New Year’s wishes. All I can think of: “Stay warm, stay warm, put on your down coat; better yet, stay home and get your books organized, make a fire, let the water boil, the kettle whistle.” Then, hot tea. Scones from Aldo in Greenport. Indulge. I’m warm now. Happy new year.
Just a thought: How sad the short lives of Christmas trees. They are cut from the top of tall trees or torn from the ground. They are carried home like trophies and placed in a favorite corner. They receive the loving attention of the family. Children, grownups of all ages treat them like honored guests. They are covered with the prettiest decorations, some, family heirlooms. Garlands of lights or candles that burn at special times. And the brightly wrapped gifts at their feet. Families and friends sing around them. We don’t hear it but the trees whisper, “I am a Christmas tree away from wind and ice and chills.”
A few days go by. No more gifts at their feet. One by one the decorations come down. The tree is naked now. It is carried out and dumped on the ground. One day a truck comes. I’ve seen them in the city piled on top of each other the day after Christmas. From their moment of glory, so soon abandoned, stripped of lights and sparkling ornaments. These trees will never grow. No spring season for them.
Florida, the Riviera, gentle in winter. San Diego, Calif., where Nancy and I got married, gentle, too. La Jolla, the romantic honeymoon town. It was warm there in February 2012. Now, we do our best to be at peace in winter, just Nina and I. Orient Village, New York City, our two anchors. One so little and intimate, the other so large and endless, both cold at this time of year. La Jolla, sometimes I try not to think about it. But we had a lovely time in February 2012. From our window in La Valencia Hotel we could see the Pacific Ocean. And a lone seagull kept us company resting on a ledge nearby. Nancy and I knew we’d want to come back. But we never did. We never could.
Pierre Gazarian is a poet and a writer of one-act plays. Email: [email protected].