It started snowing on Christmas night and the next day we woke up to this:

Boxing Day on the kitchen deck

It snowed on and off for a couple of days, by which point we had these hanging over every window and door:

Ice daggers

We didn’t mind, though, because indoors all was cosy and warm. And—because holidays, because Omicron—we were and are fully stocked with comestibles of every variety, including many bags of Charlie and George’s favourite cat treats.

Safe and warm

They didn’t mind being stuck inside. Too much. At first. After all, it was cold out there—and, besides, all the shrews, voles, moles and mice were scuttling about under the snow and inaccessible, and there weren’t many birds around to chase: the hummingbird feeder froze; when we thawed it out and put it back, it was promptly buried in more snow. So Charlie and George just hung out on our laps, or in front of the fire, or on the nice warm audio receiver—which meant I couldn’t watch anything with subtitles, but, hey, sacrifices must be made.

Meditating on warmth

Charlie, though, started to get restless. Eventually he went barrelling out into the snow (and I mean into: it was twice as deep as he is) and within five minutes had brought back a bush tit. Mindful of last year’s salmonellosis episode we took it away from him before he or George could eat it. (George, of course, had sensibly stayed indoors graciously accepting cat treats.) And then? Charlie zipped out and caught another. Rinse and repeat.

Meanwhile, George very pragmatically stole Charlie’s warm spot:

King of the warm spot

And when George spreads like that, there’s no room for Charlie. So Charlie was relegated to sitting mournfully on the windowsill in Kelley’s office watching the ice grow.

And they’re too slippery to even climb…

And, oh, did those ice daggers grow! Daggers, then swords, then javelins, then giant fucking harpoons. We had one set hanging near the front door that got to about 4′ long and as thick around as my thigh. A handy anti-dragon weapon, yes (and you never know when such things might come in handy), and lovely to look at, but increasingly dangerous. (I had visions of trying to explain to a grieving widow just how their loved one ended up looking like something from a Vlad the Impaler Illustrated Edition on our front lawn while trying to deliver a package.) So we knocked them all down. (By we I mean Kelley—because snow and wheelchairs? Not a good combination.) We also dug out the hummingbird feeder. Again. Hummingbirds are fighty little things; it’s unusual to see them sharing anything; but at one point there were three sitting around drinking together, pausing, drinking more, and looking for all the world like a group of friends in a pub. Sadly I was never quick enough to find my phone and get a picture.

The bar is open

George meanwhile was entertained by his favourite game, Chase the Treat, in which I line up cat treats on the kitchen table and/or the seat of my Rollator and flick them off in every direction so he has to leap and pounce. When he got bored, he resumed his acting lessons:

George imitates a Covid swoon

As I type this I hear dripping, and suspect the first day of 2022 will entail a return of the furry beasts to the Great Outdoors—and subsequent filth and mayhem and carnage as they track in slush and mud and blood. They will be very happy: a great start to the New Year.

For now they wish to leave you with their wisdom for the coming year—which just happens to be the title of their upcoming album.

I suspect they may be right.

And me? I don’t have much to add. I’ve been rewriting MENEWOOD (it’s going well) and will talk more about that in the coming weeks. We had a very quiet Christmas—but full of warmth and peace, good books, better wine, and excellent chocolate—and our New Year’s Eve will be our ritual caviar, Champagne, and long conversation about the year that’s past and the year to come.

Most of the time we talk about our goals for the coming year. But the last three or four years we’ve preferred to simply express gratitude and hope.

Last year on this blog I made two wishes—and both were partially granted (which, given recent events, feels like a huge win):

  • The vaccines do work, and pretty well, enough to keep most out of hospital, even with Omicron—but not nearly enough people have been vaccinated.
  • Sadly, the Biden/Harris administration has not been able to find a way around partisan gridlock—at least with regard to social changes, though they have, as I guessed, managed at least a partial infrastructure bill.

This year I’ll express two modest hopes for 2022:

  • That we all keep trying our best to be decent human beings
  • That, beyond the increasing devastation of the ongoing climate catastrophe, the planet doesn’t hit us with too much horror: no asteroids, new plagues, alien invasions, or semiconductor-eating microbes—at least not before I can have a fabulous launch party for Spear, coming 19 April to a bookstore near you!

May we all find warmth, peace, and comfort ahead.