It’s been brightly sunny and bitterly cold the last few days. I stood at my window this morning, watching the frost crystals dissolve as the heat from the radiator reached them, and I suddenly had the most vivid memory. When I was growing up, winter mornings in Vermont were very dark and very cold. My brother and I would jockey for position over the furnace vent, by far the most comfortable place to be while breakfast was cooking. It was on his side of the table, but I was older. When I stood in front of it, my long flannel nightgown would billow out, full of warm air. The thing I remembered just today is that while I stood there, warming my toes, I’d press my fingertips in a circle against the frost crystals in the windowpane to make a flower pattern. I liked the way the tiny resulting trickle of water refrosted in miniscule formations at the edge of the fingerprints. Microscopic worlds of crystals, frosted hands and warm feet and NPR on the radio and the smell of breakfast.

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