Early this morning I drove the boys to hunt with friends. It was dark, and snowing steadily, and the gravel road that would take us most of the way was unplowed and barely traveled since the storm had begun. I love driving in snow, it’s an art more than a science, requiring intermingled knowledge of car and terrain and the snow itself. And I’ve learned to love driving with my sons, the car a vessel for movement, sure, but also for a certain type of introspection and openness. A container just large and secure enough to hold certain words and thoughts that might otherwise go unshared for fear they’ll escape into the wider world.
I returned home in time for morning chores, the snow still falling but softer now, the sky a long sweep of grey and blue, with just a hint of pink to the east. I fed and watered the pigs, the cows, the chickens, then haltered Pip for milking. My bare hands were cold, but the good kind of cold, the kind that reminds one that comfort only exists in contrast to discomfort, and thus that discomfort is comfort, and vice versa.
Besides, I’d thrown a fat stick of beech on the fire right before chores. I’d put on another coffee after milking. I’d stand by the stove and warm my hands, palms down first, then turn them over to heat the knucklebones, study the lines, the calluses, the small, healing cuts, the one raised scar on the inside of my right thumb. I remember when I got that scar. Twenty years later, it’s still sensitive to the touch.