We are not blessed with snow here but we like the change of cold. Our house, tiled and old, with thin, tree-veiled windows grew colder as the days grew longer. Thick socks, loose sweats, a fireplace throwing heat. Blankets.

The boys build forts in skeleton forests, returning home at dark with red faces and stories of disaster narrowly averted. Mud splatters their legs and hands, logging their adventures in a language known only to them, washed away before dinner.

Roast pork, fresh bread, soft butter, wild rice, salad of fresh greens with a unknown dressing, cab sav, pecan pie and ice cream -- a french braid of aroma and taste and texture, a good reward for the cleared land, new fence and covered orchids before the oncoming wind chill.

"Off to bed, gentlemen."

I hold hands through the crib slats until the baby falls asleep, soft music simmering in the dark, no moon through the window. The older boys require pillow time, too. One day they won't allow me in to their rooms so I drop everything to take advantage until then. A secret revealed. A lesson. A promise of time. Their steady breathing prods me off the bed and out the door.

Read a bit. Feed the cat. Stretch hamstrings and lower back in front of the heavy-lidded embers in the fireplace. Check if the covers over the orchids have held in the wind, and adjust if necessary. Watch Orion play frisbee with his big dog, crackling in the clear cold sky.

Time, at last, for a shower, and crossing the bedroom I spot her burrowed under the comforters, echoing the breathing of her sons. Shower steam dims already faint light, drifting around me as I peel away tired sweatshirt and worn-out jeans. Anticipating tomorrow morning's pre-dawn run despite knowing it will take a few miles to warm up, I briefly look forward to that first free day I can make it to the beach.

Warm pjs on, and I slide next to my wife and spoon.

"It's about time," she said, rolling toward me, wearing only her thermal top, hands reaching for my waiststband. "Let's not be loud."

Later, wrung dry and my breath leapfrogging hers, I peek from beneath the new mountain range we've made to the windows we've fogged. On the other side the wind tosses the veils, gusts bumping the house. I plan for wearing an extra shirt for the run, not needing sweats or socks now, drifting to sleep, blessed by the change of cold.