I sit on the top step each morning and pull on boots.
Each morning for the past five weeks, I sit looking into the chilly stairwell that leads down to my front door. I tug the laces of the first boot. When I have tied the laces, I place along the baseboard of the landing the slipper I just removed.
Taking off the other slipper, I store it next to its partner. I pull up my sock to make it easier to work my foot into the second boot. I tug at those laces and tie them securely.
I am ready to grip a nearby door jamb and stand on the top step where I have just been sitting.
I am not yet ready to gather up the satchel where I keep a pair of dress shoes for my work day. First I need to open the coat closet in the hallway and find my blazer among the other jackets. Then I curve my fingers to hold the sleeve ends of the sport coat as I slide my arms into the thickness of a down parka.
Are my gloves in that satchel with the dress shoes? Most likely. No need to put them on yet because I will need to dig out my apartment keys from the pockets of my topcoat when I get downstairs and out the front door.
On the bottom landing I step around the rubber pails positioned to catch drips from an ice dam above that stairwell. Some mornings I know to pick up a long-handled snow brush to clean the roof of my car. Some mornings I scoop a mug of ice melt to help make the walk to my car a safer one. A scraper is waiting for me on the backseat of my car in case a dusting of snow is hiding a coating of ice on the windshield.
When I get home from work ten hours later, I will need to reverse a lot of the steps I just outlined. I will likely have inched my car between two others in the parking lot, listening to the crunch of ice beneath my tires. I will have looked up at the windows of my second-floor apartment, some of them curtained with icicles.
When the evening begins and the kitchen is steamy with prep for dinner, I will not be wondering what I wonder at other times these past five weeks: Why have I written so little? Why have I read less than usual, making paltry progress in library books that have already been renewed once? Why am I getting to bed well before ten o’clock some weekday evenings?
Mornings come early in an historic winter in historic New England.