I retired four and a half years ago, but I discovered today that I am a stay-at-home mom. The light dawned while I was texting with both daughter Kate and her son David at the same time. She was home from work and commenting on how cold it was in New Jersey. David had a break at work and chatted with me while he ate. Daughter Lise in Denmark called via Messenger to tell me some good news. We talked well past her bed time. I looked at a message from son John $ that came in during that call. He was letting us know there is another special train show on TV tonight. This was highly unusual to communicate with all three children and one grandchild in the space of an hour. I’m thrilled I was at home and could do it.
There is proof I’m in my second childhood. I take delight in things left behind many years ago. I love to walk in snow, stroke cats and dogs, play Solitaire, look for cloud pictures in the sky, and crack ice on puddles. Cracking ice was not common when I was growing up in West Tennessee. Prolonged periods of below freezing temperatures did not happen often. I adore the sound of breaking ice on a puddle, especially if there is air between the ice and water. There is a hollow sound as the ice shatters. You look for white ice, because if water is frozen solid and clear, it would take a jackhammer to break it.
John humors me, and today he stepped on a puddle, causing a satisfying crackle. It wouldn’t have mattered if a bit of water had spurted up, because he was wearing boots. A breathless heroine in an old novel might have swooned and said, “My hero!” Being a little more modern and less dramatic, I said, “My ice-breaker! Thank you.”
Happy shouts rang out in the neighborhood as Logan (8) and Bob lobbed snowballs at each other. My camera and I had a ringside view on our porch. One shot shows both father and son with their arms drawn back, ready to hurl packed balls. At different times, both hit their targets.
When I started the video, I didn’t know the camera would record the end of the cold war. Bob stamped the snow off his shoes and walked to the car door. Logan followed suit, and that was the end of that.
I was happy to see the snow used. Most of the time we don’t get enough for sledding. The temperature finally dropped below freezing when the snow stopped. Conditions might have been ideal for building a snowman – wet snow that would have frozen solid overnight.
Because temperatures were in the teens at night, ice formed near the little stream close to our house. I thought the ice looked like jaws. We walk over the stream most days, and I always look at it. In a dry summer, the stream is reduced to a trickle. Thanks to plenty of rain this season, it is flowing well.
David expressed interest in walking around Biltmore Village. George Vanderbilt built a church and homes for his workers outside the gates of his vast estate. Most of the houses have been turned into shops, offices, and restaurants. Our favorite was the Christmas shop, where a lively young lady welcomed us as we entered. She said Merry Christmas as if it were Christmas Eve.
We ate lunch at the Corner Kitchen. The house was built about 1895 and has an interesting layout now. The open kitchen is in the original part of the house. We walked by it going to the addition, which houses the main dining room and bar. David and I went upstairs together to the restrooms. The first one was off the landing, and it had a sign that said a second restroom was up a few more stairs and around the corner. I laughed at the sign and had to have a photo as a souvenir. It says, “The Other Restroom.”
Although David’s first day off this week was cold and wet, we wanted to go to Sunburst Falls. We suspected the water flow would be greater than usual, because of rain a few hours before. We were correct. In addition, there was a lot of ice covering the fast-moving water. We took photos in the snowy rain and ran back to the car, where John was waiting for us with the heater on.
David’s choice was to wander around Biltmore Village that afternoon. We were driving down the mountain from the waterfall when Burger King called. They were busy and needed help. We were happy to postpone our outing so that he could work extra hours.
The next day David was researching a place for us to have lunch. Among the restaurant listings was his Burger King. Have you ever wondered how recent an on-line restaurant photo is? He was surprised that the picture showed his last general manager and a customer that he recognized. The photo must have been between six months and two years old.
We decided to go to Bogart’s, a favorite we hadn’t been to in a while. On the way home, we stopped by Jonathan Creek to see how high the water was. I took a photo of David and the creek to show John, who had gone to Tennessee to work on train tracks. The rocks that we use for judging the height of the water were all submerged.
This morning I walked to the creek by myself. I saw nothing unusual until I looked at the mountains near the ski area. There was a band of rime ice that did not cover the peaks. Rime ice is formed when there are fog, wind, and freezing temperatures. The frozen fog has a lot of air in it, so the ice appears white rather than transparent. Today the peaks were not covered, something I had not seen before. Evidently, the conditions were perfect for rime ice in that lower band but not higher up. David was interested in seeing the picture before he went to work. We are still fascinated by this white ice that we never saw in New York.
Temperatures rose, and we lightened our layers for walking. I still had one layer too many. Normally I would have hung my sweater on Connie’s and Marla’s post, but the 5% chance of rain was hitting my face. Hanging was not the driest option. I hoped my neighbors wouldn’t put outgoing mail in their box, as I pushed the sweater inside and told it to behave itself.
When we came back, we saw Marla and Albert disappearing into their house. The sweater was retrieved, and a quiet adventure in the mountains came to its end.
I walk before sunrise for two reasons. I don’t want to bother with a sunscreen lotion, and I need to move before my body has time to wake up and protest. This morning, after climbing the steep hill, we were walking toward the sun as it peeked over the eastern mountain. It was similar to the shot of the moon I took 25 hours before, as the moon set in the west – two celestial orbs, one coming and one going.
After I took the photo, we walked at our usual pace. That had the effect of making the sun disappear behind the mountain again, as we walked closer to the base. The sun remained un-risen until we turned into our street. Did time stand still in those moments? Not that I could tell. We were just playing Peek-a-Boo with the sun.