For the last couple of weeks, I’ve been eying Sam’s bum speculatively. Measuring things in my mind.
To be sure, it is a fine specimen to look at, however my sudden strong interest in his backside is purely practical. I am planning a surprise for him, something that will give a warm and pleasant feeling to his nether regions. After all, we’re right into the festive season now – love, light, the spirit of giving, all that kind of stuff.
So I thought I’ll sew him a wind-resistant, fleece-lined bum cover that will button on to the inside of his winter jackets. Maybe not much of a fashion statement but of highly practical value. It will drop down, apron-like, over his backside, narrow to thong proportions to go between the legs, flare out in fig leaf fashion in the front and button up again to the inside of the jacket front.
I’m considering Velcro closures on the sides – otherwise the contraption would probably gape open there – but that might look too diaperesque.
Sam is also sewing something for me, I assume. It is difficult to work on presents in private in a two-room cabin where you constantly seem to need something out of the other room. But I have been refused entry to the upstairs on several occasions now, been asked in an off-hand way where the sewing needles are, and if we have any beads left. Scissoring sounds have been filtering down through the plywood, as well as soft curses and yelps of pain.
I’ve decorated the cabin with little twigs of juniper and fir boughs, firy rosehips and pale wands of swamp grass. The pot of water on the wood stove that keeps steaming away and saving us from paper-dry sinuses is perfumed with fir needles, adding a different note to the dog-heavy air in the cabin. Not much effort has gone into festive lighting: of course, kerosene lamps and candles are already in use.
We also went on a little baking spree, Sam muttering things under his breath when adding egg replacer to the dough, and now the chocolate chip supply that I’ve been steadily sneaking into my cereal over the months has dwindled to the point that I can’t steal any more of it for my breakfast without it being noticed. That is tough, because it was solely thanks to this chocolate source that I’ve been able to stretch my six-month chocolate supply past the three-month point. Now the beginning of 2010 stretches out ahead of me as a bleak, chocolateless wasteland.
I wonder if we will have enough power left in our batteries to indulge in much calling and e-mailing over the holidays. With the generator wheezing like Santa under a bagful of presents at temperatures of minus 15 and below, prospects of charging things up are slim until it gets warmer. Already I have sent out a premature flurry of e-mails and messages, bestowing good wishes well ahead of time – just in case.
Solstice passed in gluttony, maybe a subconscious effort to tilt the northern hemisphere back to the sun by the mere increase in our body weight. The raven who flapped along on our solstice walk (both ways!) was perhaps ogling us for fat content and any signs of dropping dead, gurgling and croaking like a bird possessed; or so we thought. It was only later that we realized a group of caribou had been digging for lichen just a little bit further (Santa’s team having a rest?), and that maybe the raven had hoped for a display of hunting prowess on our part.
Clucking and yelling, he landed on top of a spruce tree by the cabin when we got back. I went inside and scooped up some dog kibble to offer to the solstice bird, but when I came back outside the raven had vanished. We decided to take it as an omen: the blackest bird had come with us on the darkest day of the year and then vanished, giving way to light.
It will be two or three weeks yet until the gain in daylight will start to be noticeable. In the meantime though, I have to finish my little sewing project. Excuse me while I go and take another measurement.
Lisa Hasselbring is a writer who lives at the headwaters of the Yukon
River south of Whitehorse.