Sleet and Sorcery and Feeding My Soul

The sound of sleet hitting windows is unique. Windblown pellets of fresh ice striking glass make a noise that seems to occupy a range of disquietude midway between a weak thud and a feeble, metallic scrape. When those same pieces of frigid slush land on concrete pavement, they make clicking sounds, as if fragments of heavy, brittle leaves had shattered into pieces and sprinkled to the frozen ground. Together, on grey days like today, they intone dreary winter medleys, reminders that weeks of intermittent cold and darkness will follow.

Sleet makes fireplaces inviting and blankets alluring. Sleet makes streets treacherous and highways even worse. Sleet wraps its icy fingers around our psyches as if to prove we have no immediate control over the weather.

Sleet almost invariably melts, at least a little, soon after pelting the windows and siding and sidewalks and streets. It then freezes again, forming sheets of black ice on roads and walkways and dribbling as icicles from leaves and eaves.

Thin coatings of ice on trees, whether from sleet or freezing vapor or refreezing snow melt, causes some trees, especially pine trees, to take on a white halo; a ghostly aura. When those trees are close together, the collective white glow looks like the forest is filled with steam or pale grey smoke; one half expects a vaporous coven of witches to step out of the wood.  Why these odd images seems to arise in my mind only on cold days when the temperatures hover near or below freezing is beyond me. Perhaps a subconscious memory from my childhood, never quite reaching my consciousness, is to blame. Or maybe these images spring from a well of madness within me that becomes almost as solid as ice when temperatures cause liquids to transform into gaseous solids. Only physicists and sorcerers know the causes, I suspect.


My wife made a Dutch over full of West African sweet potato soup yesterday. She took the stuff to a “soup party” (perhaps named differently, but that’s what it was), where several women from a “Girls’ Night Out” group gathered to share their soups and, I assume their recipes. She left enough for me to have it for dinner last night. And she brought enough back so we could have it for lunch today. The dish my wife made includes sweet potatoes, peanut butter, ginger, tomato juice, and various other ingredients. I did not expect to be particularly enamored of the stuff, but I was. And am. I jazzed mine up a tad by squeezing some fresh lime juice into the bowl, along with some Tabasco sauce. I believe this soup is now among my favorites. Today, with all the sleet and cold weather, is an ideal soup day. In fact, after having soup for lunch, I thought about making a big batch of lentil soup, one of my specialties.  But I’d have to go out to buy vegetables, which I’d rather not do. Even though the streets are probably easily passable, I’d rather stay in than expose myself to the elements.


Tonight, for dinner, we will have leftover roast with horseradish sauce. The roast marinated in a thick, very tasty marinade for 48 hours before my wife cooked it a couple of nights ago. Once again, I wasn’t terribly involved in its preparation, so I do not know the ingredients of the marinade. I do know it was quite tasty. And the meat was rare enough to be entirely to my liking. The roast would make an even better meal if served with fresh green beans (rather than canned “kitchen cut” green beans), but I will not complain. It would do me no good and would, in fact, almost certainly diminish the emotional quality of life in my house for a period. Not worth it, I tell you.


My mood is improving, if only slightly. I do not know why it goes up and down and back again. I know only that it does. Knowing that actually helps when it’s on the down cycle; I know it will eventually return to a more tolerable state.


About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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