February. I hope so, because one overnight low earlier this month was minus 26. When I mention this to a neighbor, he says it was the coldest day in these parts in 25 years.
Of course, those are outdoor temperatures and, as my wise partner, Valerie, notes, most of those sub-zero numbers occur at 3 or 4 in the morning, when we are nestled under the down quilt gifted us by our new friend, Jeanette. Fortunately, the "split" heat pump is working well. We heard that at -10, it gets a bit less effective. During that 26-below night, we were a toasty 65 degrees. The split was set at 70.
And there are other benefits to the frigid weather. Like eight eagles posted the next morning like sentinels in the river birth trees across from our studio in the Common House, at the edge of Benton Hill Park. Their white breasts seemed as wide as bed sheets and their stillness made them look like sculptures.
I stepped outside for two minutes to photograph them. Val rapped on the window, summoning me inside. I was reminded that at -5 degrees, any exposed skin is subject to frostbite. Once back inside now, making a cup of coffee, I went on the Internet and discovered it was 51 degrees back in Auburn, where we lived this time a year ago. What's the fun in that?
So, what does one do on a below-zero day at Prairie Hill Cohousing? For one thing, jigsaw puzzles. We have completed a 300-piece, a 500-piece and a 1,008 piece puzzle. I use the word "we" loosely because my contribution for all three puzzles was probably fewer than two dozen pieces.
Also I have watched one couple play chess, and there is the activity room, where I have logged several hours on the stationery bike and the treadmill.
As I head downstairs in the Common House to ride the bike, it is snowing outside. I grab the book, America, America, by Iowa City author Ethan Canin. I am in the final pages of this novel, and I am hoping Ethan is upstairs in his nearby home, coffee cup handy, working on the next one.