It has been forty degrees below zero, or colder, for about ten days now. Other than one quick and heavily bundled trip to the in laws to do laundry and indulge in a bath, we’ve been tucked into our cabin in our woolens with hot mugs in our hands.
I would be lying if I said I didnt long for our running water these days, or wish for an easier commute and closer company. As I type on a cellphone I also wish we had internet so I could release all the writing I’ve been doing on my laptop. But, we have quiet in excess, owls calling out to us in the night, moonshine enough to clearly see the mountains at night, and a window full of northern lights at the foot of our bed. We also have a house full of sun every afternoon- a hot commodity after the long dark of December and January. Infrequent showers and internet access is an entirely reasonable cost.
More words soon- either when this cold breaks, or I get cabin fever, pack up the babe, coax the car to start and go fetch myself a shower and a latte.
I think I understand my mother better now. I understand why she would stay awake after we all went to sleep, reading, or watching tv, often with a small bowl of plain potato chips beside her. It is 12:30 am. I have just nursed my infant daughter to sleep. She is in bed, upstairs in the loft, my partner is asleep in bed beside her, where I should probably be, also sleeping. But instead I am downstairs, sitting on the bottom step, in front of the wood stove, with a hot cup of tea in my hands. It is the first hot drink I’ve had all day, the only one that is not lukewarm and too strong by the time I reach it. And, I hope, unlike the others I will finish it, instead of being distracted by a diaper change, or separated from it by the need to breastfeed.
Mom still keeps her nightly ritual, and I wonder now if instead of solace from a house full of noise and two raucous daughters, the nightly moments on her own serve as reminders of when we were both there, instead of in our own houses with our own newborns.
I love my daughter. I am thrilled to have a year to stay at home to hold her, to wear her around for most of my day, to sing to her, to rock her to sleep. The time to spend with her, with my partner, building our family is a privilege. But so too are these few stolen moments by myself. My family in the bed in the loft above me, our huskies curled in tight balls at my feet, the northern lights and the cold subarctic dark outside around us all.
I recognize mom and her small rituals in a new way now, see that it was not that she was a night owl- or, if she was an owl, she only spent her nights scanning for and grasping at a small darting bits of stillness and solitude, skittish and as difficult to catch as mice. I’ll head back upstairs soon, probably only a few minutes really since I came downstairs. But I can fit a lot into a few quiet moments. I’ll be back upstairs, arms around my daughter, back warmed by my furnace of a mate. Until I go back to my roost for the night, I’ll sit here, like my mom may be doing at this moment as well, far away, hands grasping tight at my hot mug, eyes wide in the quiet and dim light.
A 3:00 pm subarctic sunset.
We are, finally, wonderfully, tucked into our home across the river, through the snowy spruce, and under the northern lights looking across the Tintina Trench at the Ogilvie mountains.
We are happy, the babe keeps us busy and there is so much to tell and so little time to write. (How is that for a tease?)
This time two weeks ago I was high on adrenaline and holding an hour old infant on my chest in the Whitehorse General Hospital. Giving birth to Maggie was the most challenging thing I’ve ever done, and the most awesome. Bodies are amazing, and what my body did was mind-blowing. I built a human. With tiny complete bones, and eyebrows, and teeny tiny toenails and facial expressions all her own. I can’t stop thinking about how incredible this whole thing is. Our life has been completely changed- there is so much that is new about all of this- and yet it feels like she’s always been here.
Right now, Chris and Maggie are in bed sleeping. Their faces are a few inches apart and Maggie has her tiny fingers tangled in his beard. I am the very luckiest.
(I promise there is a real honest to goodness blog post headed your way, with tales of contractions and labour and all the good nitty gritty details of Ms. Maggie’s arrival, but for now all I can write is gushy. Apologies. How can I write something serious when there is a bearded northern ginger napping in front of me with our newborn babe? Lets blame this post on postpartum hormones.)