Baby, it's cold outside

One of our radiators wasn’t working last night, so I bled it. Which led (almost inevitably given my plumbing skillz) to the radiator haemorrhaging as I dropped the key under a veritable geyser of increasingly hot water.

At 6.30am this morning, with snow still lying out in the garden and a biting wind rattling the corrugated plastic awning over the back door, the boiler refused to kick into life. Worse still, I know that my tender ministrations towards the radiator yesterday are the cause. Not only are we cold – it’s half term so the whole family’s at home – but I’m to blame. Nothing deepens the chill like the knowledge that I did it myself.

I’m sure that there’s a lesson for me in all this – apart from get a plumber to bleed my radiators, which is just embarrassing – but I’m not sure what. It certainly speaks to my fear that I can’t do anything practical with my hands (all Ikea furniture in the house suffers angular irregularities – which my darling wife calls ‘character’ – and the kitchen cupboard doors hang at a slant), but what more than that? Answers in the comments, please.

Today’s cold is one of those hidden pressures that we notice when we’re paying attention to it (”brr, it’s cold”), but that we don’t notice how it whispers its way into all our interactions. As we are breathing the cold air right down to the bottom of our lungs, so the heart of our family interactions is cooling rapidly today. The girls are deeply tired after the first half of term, and getting things “wrong” in our eyes – spilling food everywhere, spreading all the games and puzzles over the floor without clearing them up, listening without hearing, etc.

Tempers are shorter today; we find ourselves less flexible, more brittle in the cold.

Winter … is a demanding season – and not everyone appreciates the discipline … Despite all appearances, of course, nature is not dead in winter – it has gone underground to renew itself and prepare for spring. Winter is a time when we are admonished, and even inclined, to do the same for ourselves.” – Parker J. Palmer.

Of course, it’s highly inconvenient that the heating’s broken when the whole family’s at home and the weather’s cold, AND it’s extremely appropriate that it happens when we’re taking a break from school and having a quieter time than usual. The cold urges us to withdraw into ourselves, and maybe that’s precisely the right thing to do – to nestle into our own selves, even in the heart of the family, to nurture our own sense of warmth, renewal, and to prepare for spring.

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