It is 3 degrees right now, and will dip below zero overnight. The sky is practically cloudless, and the moon is shinning brightly in the sky with the stars twinkling above the rooflines and chimneys that gently puff out a warm exhaust. If we had a deeper snowpack, it would surely get colder. These are the nights that, strangely, I long to experience.
After my mom passed away in '95, I find myself not sleeping all that well. Lena and I lived in the apartment off the house I grew up in, and on cold nights like these, I would venture from the warmth of our bed to the pond deep in the night. With only the moon to guide me past the slumbering garden, I would make my way down the old stone steps to the memorial bench that was etched with her initials and two years, "1945" and "1995." I would lay down on the hard granite slab, which matched two others at the far side of the pond that paid tribute to my grandparents and great aunt and uncle. Just spending time looking into the heavens, listening to the trees clicking as they swayed, warmed from the outside in by clothing but chilled from in the inside out by the air being breathed into my lungs..
These days, the pond area has been neglected and overgrown, but the bench still stands tall in honor of my parents. I try to visit it a few times a year, but it is hard to see the area in such a state (especially feeling like a stranger there. I also am watching Northern Exposure dvds we have at the house, as this show was picked up with the old antenna in reruns during the wee hours of the morning in between these quiet visits. It was as if, during these times of depressing solace, this particular tv show helped to remind me of community and family. Now, it is almost therapeutic to watch these episodes again, especially since so many of the shows highlighted a brilliant moon over the snowy, cold landscape. Just like those times back on Furnace Grove.