The cold dropped like a hammer, and with it that certain stillness of middle winter. I awoke to iced-over windows and kindled a fire before stepping into my chore boots and then down the narrow stairway that services our current quarters.
While I milked, two ravens wheeled overhead; I could hear the rush of the air displaced by their passing. I followed their flight path with my gaze until they reached the old church steeple, then became specks against the backdrop of the snow-white field to the north, then disappeared from view.
My fingers stung from the cold. To distract myself from the pain, I began to compile a mental list of everything we need to do to finish the house, but this soon become more painful than my fingers, so I quit, and then my fingers hurt again, and because I was milking for the pigs, I allowed myself the luxury of dipping them into the bucket of warm milk. I knew the pigs wouldn’t mind, and it made all the difference in the world.