These are the sitting days.
The gray sky hangs low, a heavy blanket sitting just above the houses. The world has hushed, and the hum of the holidays has faded back into picture frames and boxes, tucked away for another year.
This is the time of quiet, of stillness, of slow patience. Tree branches draped in thick sweaters knit of snow hang heavy towards the ground. Pots of soup are stirred night after night. Mugs of tea and coffee and cocoa are tightly held by fingers hoping to capture their warmth. The snow has lost its luster, aging from wonderment to a chilling gray. Wool blankets are tucked under chins, and their occupants sit staring at dancing fires, waiting.
These are the sitting days.
The cold demands more tea, which calls for fresh bread, which requests homemade jam. I pull a jar of blueberry jam out of the freezer. It tastes like sweet summer afternoons, the ones where the sunshine seeps into the house and throws itself across the rooms, insisting on being adored. I mashed fresh berries and sugars together on one of those afternoons, wearing a yellow apron rimmed with flowers. The jam itself is simple, but having it makes me feel like I truly am the kind of woman who wears flower covered aprons and puts food in jars while someone strums a banjo on the front porch and waves at passersby. It makes me think of simpler times. I don’t think there really ever was such a thing as simpler times. I believe that times are hard and have always been hard, and we would rather not remember that. But I do believe that there were days with sunshine and fresh berries. Days where jam was put up for the winter.
Today, the city is gray and silent. The roads and the trails are covered in ice. The tracks in the snow are few and frozen, and they do not include our own. We remain tucked under wool blankets, waiting for the gray to pass.
Montana summer days drag well on into the nights. After dinner was finished, we headed outside, letting babies fall asleep on our backs as we walked. Up and down our streets, waving at neighbors. Over the hills behind our house, staring at the city below, watching the sun lazily make its way towards the mountains. We walked until we had passed bedtimes, figuring they weren’t as important as fresh air. We left dishes until later, knowing come winter, we would regret having wasted a moment of sun. I wanted to soak it all inside me, to put up sunshine for the cold winter nights I would need it most.
It is night now, and the soft gray has turned to black. Tomorrow the dim light will peek above the eastern range and stretch a little longer before heading to bed once more. We will wait with patience and jam, hoping it will decide to join us again soon.