In the Bleak Midwinter

In the Bleak Midwinter
by Christina Rossetti

In the bleak midwinter, frosty wind made moan,
Earth stood hard as iron, water like a stone;
Snow had fallen, snow on snow, snow on snow,
In the bleak midwinter, long ago.

Although I haven’t any opposition to the weather today, its description falls within that category of despondency called gloomy.  To overcome the suggestion of melancholy, perhaps drab is more fit. It nonetheless paints a very pleasing image, tarnished gold and rustic. The temperature has risen to 6°C and rain is predicted throughout the day. The rain which has already fallen has succeeded to melt most of the snow except what hems rambling shrubs or thick grassland or remains in the trenches between the former cornfields spared as stumps in parallel waving lines across the russet coloured undulations that fringe the river.

The truth – stark and bald like the denuded trees bordering the river – is that I welcome the rainy weather. Not only does it diminish the curtain of winter in general; it also recommends using my tricycle protected from the rain in the garage. Although the garage is cool (and the outside air billows into the cavern when the folding doors are opened for cars coming and going) there is no pressing need for a jacket, hat or gloves. I have unwittingly learned that the flat surface of the garage floor and its overall protection from the elements are ideal for my ritual expiation of guilt called moderate exercise. It engenders a curious form of privacy as well, insulating me from the unrestrained popular medium, immuring me in my own immediate and accessible track. And because the surface is flat I haven’t any resistance to repeated acceleration which – if my Apple Watch were able to capture the internet through the cement boundaries above and around me – I am quite certain surpasses what I achieve when cycling outside.

Forgive my lapse into the vulgar subject of extent, but it occurred to me today that the dimension of my 30-minute ritual cycle may be better than I had at first calculated.  For one thing, I believe the distance between the parking spaces is closer to 7′ than 6′ as I had previously estimated.  Then I realized I hadn’t included the width of the 8 pillars which I estimate to be 1′ each.  Accordingly, for the 26 parking spaces there is a cumulative total of 26 x 7′ = 182′.  To this product is added 8′ for the pillars, so 182′ + 8′ = 190′ one way; or, the return circuit is 190′ x 2 = 380′ which I have further calculated to be the distance I cover each minute of my cycle.  Conveniently my Apple Watch stops when I am not moving (as when I chat with another resident).  So while the watch cannot connect to the GPS signal to determine the exact distance I’ve traveled going back and forth in the gargage, it does accurately compute the time I have spent in motion.  Accordingly in 30 minutes I travel  380′ x 30 minutes = 11,400′ or 3,475 meters or 3.475 kilometers which is about what I averaged when out-of-doors.

The pathos of the subterranean cycle was freshened today by a brief encounter with a woman who reported having just returned from “mucking the barn” which upon my further enquiry she confirmed was on the Golden Line. I then recalled having met her husband recently.  He had informed me (as the woman echoed) that their farm and horses had been turned over to their daughter (presumably in anticipation of the parents’ move to the apartment).

In addition to that brief exchange, I chatted at greater length with a gentleman who amusingly is one of two whom I know here from our previous apartment building on the other side of the river.  Our confab today was devoted to a discussion of automobiles (he just bought a new one) and their inevitable techology issues. Subsequently by further coincidence the other gentleman whom I mentioned arrived in his car and we too shared some sparse words.

The dismal perspective of the day was not altered when I afterwards conducted my equally habitual drive to Stittsville for a car wash which, yes, I acknowledge is completely superfluous on a rainy day but I treasure the drive and listening to classical Christmas music such as that offered by Württembergisches Kammerorchester. Apple Music has again out-performed my expectations.  Seemingly every day there are new choices of classical Christmas music which frankly I had formerly confined to Handel, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and King’s College Choir. To my satisfaction the baroque theme runs through all of them. Unsurprisingly some of the best recordings are by Deutsche Grammophon.

The obscure weather had its own pathetic fallacy this afternoon as we struggled to unfold the prerequisites of Sirius XM for access to its streaming services on other devices. Technology is alwasy a challenge as I attempt to follow its iconic words and symbols. Reportedly the effort was an ultimate success though I have no proof other than that intelligence.  I do not use Sirius XM outside the car (where I use it for classical music and news).  I don’t follow live television or listen to Sirius XM for music or pod casts when using my laptop computer, iPhone or iPad. The interlude required to get from Sirius XM to streaming was not without its reciprocal static and disconnection before finally achieving a fluid communication. There is a lesson in everything. Not the least of which is harmonizing the chorus of voices and sounds which percolate throughout the day, any day including a bleak midwinter day.

The Winter’s Spring
by John Clare

I never want the Christmas rose
To come before its time;
The seasons each, as God bestows,
Are simple and sublime.