I woke at 7:15 this morning to a little girl with a strange idea that we leave our warm blankets. I was reluctant but she was convincing with a sign language announcement that it was time to go potty, so off went the covers and on came my warmest house slippers. Not warm enough.
I checked the thermometer in the living room: 9 degrees (48 Fahrenheit). I added a layer with a fleece jacket and whined to myself, “Pancake Saturday won’t be any good today; the pancakes will be cold within minutes of landing on our plates!” I complained silently about our apartment complex being the only one in town without a noodle stand downstairs, the only breakfast worth eating in this weather. But then an image came to mind of an elderly man I’ve seen around town, picking through trash, wearing ragged layers with a giant bag over his shoulder. He might very well be suffering this cold outdoors, I realized, and turned my mind to make the best of today.
So what do we do on a day when it’s less than 50 even indoors?
We began with a trip to town for that bowl of noodles, picking up letters for Chinese penpal students at the post office, and taking advantage of the “winter week” sales along with everyone else in our county (clearly, we forgot our “no shopping on market day” rule). Eggs were on sale for barely over a dollar a kilo, and my husband braved the crowds to get ourselves enough to last the week.
A friend from a nearby village, a widower with a fruit orchard, was in town selling his sweet goods – fresh apples grown just miles away. He ignored our protests and filled a bag with the delicious fruit from his woven baskets. A perfect balance of sweet and tart, crunchy and soft, we’ve already enjoyed them whole and baked. I’m humbled by his gift, knowing he and his family have needs and challenges I’ll never have to face.
Home again in time for nap, I checked our drying laundry to find everything feeling as wet as it was yesterday. And the day before that. I’m impatient for the secret fabric hiding under the not-secret fabric to dry so I can secretly sew some Christmas Eve pajamas for two certain members of my family… can you see it?
Just like most days the past two weeks, my ears were full of a toddler’s “no, no, no”‘s… she even makes up scenarios to practice her “no,” like almost touching a forbidden item and then pulling her hand away with a hearty “no!!” I snapped this photo (yes, that’s her mouth in “no” formation) of her response to the question, “Do you EVER sit still?”
She and our beans have a lot in common… I think we’ve figured out which seeds to use for cover crops over our winter fields. These little guys were sown barely before the weather turned, and surprise me every day with their growth.
This last cold-day photo is a Christmas gift last year, a super-cool retro-style “Gingerbread House Creation Kit.” I bought it here in China though the box is in all English so I’m not sure where (and it what decade) it was intended to be sold. We’re still trying to find either molasses or a recipe that uses neither it nor honey (honey’s really expensive right now), but our little girl’s as eager as I am to try out the stencils.
Our cold day might have ended with a spectacular lunar eclipse, but the clouds beat the shadow to it and kept our moon blanketed all night. An appropriate return to the start, with blankets, which is where I’m headed now. Goodnight!
How do you spend cold days? Share in the comments!