Practically In Love

With apologies to Elizabeth Barrett Browning



Illustration by Brad Fitzpatrick

Father says, “The trail was so rough and bumpy, Mother almost bounced off the back of the snow machine.” Then (this is the romantic part): 

”I’m glad she didn’t. She makes awful good biscuits.”

Ever wonder why we celebrate Valentine’s Day in February?

Me neither.

Though come to think of it, February in New Hampshire provides more opportunities to show our sweethearts we love them than any other month.

Forget waxy chocolates, supermarket champagne, flowers from away and flimsy undies. Best stock up on Sudafed, bottled water, cordwood and long johns.

How do we love thee in the dead of winter? Let us count the ways.

We love thee to the depth and breadth and height of the snow banks by the driveway, testament to the shoveling we did to make room for the Mini.

We clear trails to the mulch pile and bird feeder so thee need not slog through three feet of the (bleeping) white (bleep) to dump eggshells and stock Meaties for the desperate, dive-bombing chickadees.

"How do we love thee in the dead of winter? Let us count the ways"

Our passion inspires us to pound out the dents and jury-rig the mailbox after the town plow knocks it down, again — the better to receive the oil and electric bills.

We knock 30-pound ice sabers from the roof edge so thee doesn’t get skewered when thee walks out the front door.

We love thee with a love that coats the steps with salt and fits creepers to the soles of thee’s Timberlands so thee doesn’t fall on thee’s ass. 

In the midst of the multi-day power outage, we cook ham, carrots, potatoes, onions and cabbage on the wood stove. That’s right, New England boiled dinner, a known aphrodisiac. We serve it by candlelight on paper plates to save on the washing up, since we’ve got no running water and paper plates burn good. 

We haul buckets of melted snow from the vicinity of that same wood stove to the bathroom for flushing.

We peruse our collection of brochures for warm places with beaches, turquoise waters and manta rays. Places we can’t afford. Besides, even if the power came back on, we know for a fact the minute thee and I hightailed it for the airport the furnace would crap out, the pipes would freeze, burst and flood the cellar. 

How do we love thee? In February? In New Hampshire? 

When the big wind topples the pine tree onto the roof, we block and tackle that sucker, rip into it with the chain saw. Split and stack it. Pile the brush and burn it. “Toasted marshmallow, my dear?” we say. “Roasted weenie on a stick?” 

We toast and roast, swill hot cocoa with rum and watch the flames eat the darkness.  

How do we love thee? We love thee with a love that could not love thee better, not even if thee made awful good biscuits. In March. In Barbados.

(Sorry, Elizabeth Barrett Browning — once I got headed, I couldn’t stop myself.) 

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