No, dear friends and readers, this is not a photo of the river in front of my window. There is no snow in The Village, no snow in la Dordogne. Yet, it is Siberia … in the house of The Little Family.
The central heating system broke down on Monday late afternoon. It was still comfortable on Tuesday morning but since then, the situation has been deteriorating. The electric system allows one electric radiator for each Girl, and one in the kitchen or wherever the Girls are moving. Were I to put more radiators, the system would break as well (old house…).
Therefore I have shut the rooms where we do not absolutely need to go, and explained that each room with an electric radiator must be closed to keep the warmth and not to spend it in corridors. This is not really understood: I find open doors that I close, grumbling loudly. And I explain again!
Litres of hot soup, tea, herbal tea, cups of coffee and warm chocolate are eaten and drunk. Duvets extra-duvets, extra-extra-duvets and eiderdowns are put on the beds. And there is great chance that there will be no TV this evening as the sitting room is very cold and too big for one little electric radiator. Why, oh why, was the chimney place sealed?
Appointments have been made to try to restore a normal temperature in the house. If all goes well, tomorrow evening, Sibera will recede and warmth will be soft and sweet.
I can see how much we are used to comfort: no more heavy jumpers, opening of doors and windows in full winter, jeans instead of corduroy or wool trousers. Thin socks. And our house is not overheated compared to other dwellings. We respect the 19°C prescribed by the Government. There are homes where families live in T-shirts all year round.
In order to forget this more-than-disagreement, I squat my sister’s bed and type with the laptop in my lap. But I am thinking of this poem by Ben Jonson – the last stanza that inspired lyrics and a song that Kathleen Ferrier sung, too slowly according to our standards, but oh so beautifully with each inflection of sweetness and softness! This is a rememberance of the whiteness of Siberia and a foretaste of the warmth to come (fingers crossed).
Have you seen but a bright lily grow
Before rude hands have touched it?
Have you marked but the fall of snow
Before the soil hath smutched it?
Have you felt the wool of beaver,
Or swan’s down ever?
Or have smelt o’ the bud o’ the brier,
Or the nard in the fire?
Or have tasted the bag of the bee?
O so white, O so soft, O so sweet is she!