Living In An Ice Box

It is cold in my house. So cold, that I have not been able to write. My fingers are not quite frozen but they are stiff enough to not be as limber as I am used to them being. When I am cold all of my brain activity slows down and it seems as if my creative sensibilities are packed in ice. I say little and to be terribly honest I have little to say because my brain feels like it is freezing. It is as if my imagination has gone into some kind of cerebral hibernation. Once I get the heater going ideas seems to fluidly flow but since I am currently living through a rather bitter economic recession- I only use the heater in small doses so as not to accrue a terribly expensive bill. This winter is going to be all about minimizing expenses while trying to figure out effective ways to stay warm. It is my feeling that staying warm is going to be much more of a challenge than living through the forth coming economic depression.

“This is the sacrifice I make for living the bohemian existence…living as an artist,” is what I reassuringly say to myself as I fight away the cold in my home. My wife has been struggling against the on set of pneumonia and yesterday morning we woke up and one of our birds was frozen stiff- supine on the bird cage floor. Using electricity to keep the refrigerator cold is a futile act since it is warmer inside the refrigerator than it is in my kitchen- so I unplugged the refrigerator. I often find myself filled with envy as I imagine all those with money who have the luxury to have radiant heat and heated floorboards as I walk across my hard wood floors that are as frozen as ice (I could ice skate on them). Today the temperature inside my house was colder than the temperature outside- so I decided to go and read and do some work in my car. I often wonder why am I withstanding another freezing cold winter in this hundred year old house without insulation? Why not move? The honest answer is because I love it here.

Love often comes with the price of pain. Physical and emotional. As good as love feels it also hurts that much. I know of no love that has been easy to bare. This is the yin and yang of love- it is hard to have love without its opposite. So, I tell myself this as I spend my nights shivering beneath my blankets. I tell myself this as I try to homeopathicly alleviate my wife’s chronic cough. I tell myself this as I scoop up my frozen parakeet. It is all the price of love. I have loaded up on warm clothes for the winter and even as I type this I am wearing gloves and am bundled up in two scarves and a long black wool jacket. I bought my wife the warmest gloves I could find and I even purchased a sweater for my cat. I am ready to go, ready for a survival match against the cold in my house- but what often fills me with a lugubrious feeling of despair is a thought that I have been having all week- “man… is not even winter yet.”


  1. I know the feeling in reverse, Randall. I envy those with airconditioning but I love my old timber house too. The weather is wild, it’s 32 Celcius and 100 per cent humidity and it’s only early December. I bet the cat loves it sweater.

  2. oohooo, aaaah, brrrrr, i’m rubbing my hands as i read this. my saviour complex is turned on full tilt and i want to cover you with the heat of warm advice: drink hot chocolate, eat lots of cayenne, crawl under the blanket full-body so you don’t lose heat through your head, and can i send you a few of those keep-your-hands-warm packages?

    i used to live in eastern ontario on canada, where it gets COLD (can’t leave the house for longer than 8 hours otherwise the pipes freeze).

    but what i’m reminded of the most are those two winters in berlin, up on the no-elevator 5th floor (high ceilings!), where i’d heat the whole apartment with two ancient ceramic stoves, with coal hauled up from the basement. many mornings of waking up with our breaths showing. and – it’s a lovely memory. where i first allowed myself to truly write.

  3. Thank you for this inspiring comment. Reminds me of a Milan Kundera novel. I am reminded that there is something strangely literary (I just read about how Robert Lowell, Rimbaud and Flaubert wrote novels and poems in homes where they were freezing) about living in a home where you are freezing your behind off. All last night I was watching my breath in the moonlight.

    Please send whatever warmth giving items you can!! This is very kind of you and will be appreciated and well utilized!!

  4. Okay, so this is how it plays out.

    I have my tea and super excited to read anything you write.

    Start reading, start smiling, now I am grinning (think Cheschire Cat) at wife’s pneumonia and dead bird. Now I am laughing my guts out at homopathically removing pneumonia and really, everything else.

    You never disappoint.

    Renee xoxoxo

  5. I hope that I can continue to deliver ( I am currently experiencing a phase of writer’s block induced by various atmospheric disturbances. I am working with an acupuncturist and an Ayurveda practitioner and will be back to exploiting myself through writing soon).

    Your comments allow me to remember why I write- if I ever am fortunate enough to accept an award for writing I will certainly thank you.

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