All the snow has turned to water,
Christmas days have come and gone.

There is a disproportionate number of days in this small town where I live when the outdoor thermometer always reads 42 degrees Fahrenheit. Fall, Winter, and Spring. Lest you think I'm complaining, or that it's a faulty device, let me assure you neither is true. I'm just stating an observation. And the thermometer was purchased and installed by my husband, who likes to write the daily temperature on the kitchen calendar. I think it's a hold over habit from maintaining a weather station where he worked for 25 years, but I've never asked him.

Memories, they can't be boughten.
They can't be won at carnivals for free.

I was mad when he installed the darn thing, drilling through perfectly good Hunter Green painted walls, about 10 inches to the house exterior, wires and silicone, off-center and at his eye level. (He is 6'3" and I'm 5'6".) He gave this to me years ago as a Christmas present, and he announces the temperature as if I am somehow responsible for the cold or the heat. He has several back-up thermometers from varying time periods, a few from each of the seven decades of his life. One from before he was even born. Some with mercury. This is what you learn in marriage if you stay for the long haul.

Broken hearts and dirty windows
Make life difficult to see

Everyone has small rituals that pull them from one day into the next. I think this as I write in front of a fire in the woodstove, burning logs meticulously cut to the correct size by my husband. Even the kindling, and there's a part of me that saddens, thinking I'm burning up moments of his life. Hours he spent in the summer and fall sitting in a chair, hand clipping twigs, smoking his pipe.

Well it took me years to get those souvenirs
And I don't know how they slipped away from me.

Perhaps he was looking ahead to the days when the thermometer would read forty-two degrees or less, and I would want the warmth.

lyrics from Souvenirs by John Prine

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