Feeling the Cold and the Creeps

It warmed up a mite. A couple of mornings ago, it was minus eight degrees Fahrenheit, and this morning when I walked to work, it was twelve degrees. A veritable heat wave! Despite the high temperature being just above freezing this afternoon, the heat from the sun was so intense, the snow is almost melted. There will be another day or two with single digit lows, then it will get back into the temperatures I’d become accustomed to — lows in the twenties, highs in the fifties.

That also means I’ll be back to watering my grass occasionally. And the streets will be clear and dry so I can go to the library. They are holding a couple of interlibrary loan books for me, and I need to go pick them up, though I’m not sure I really care to read them. I ordered these books months ago — maybe even a year ago — but because of all the closures and slowdowns due to The Bob, I didn’t get the books until now. In fact, I’d completely forgotten about them.

Meantime, what was once an author (Louise Penny) I enjoyed reading became one who gives me the creeps. This author, like one I have abhorred for a very long time whose initials are JP, is teeming up with a politician to write a book. I have no idea why an author who is respected in her own right needs the name of such a controversial politician (initials HRC) to further her career or why she would want to further the needs of the politician. It makes me feel manipulated, as if hands on my back are steering me in a direction I don’t want to go. I realize I shouldn’t let her decision to team up with another person make me rethink the books she wrote before the teaming, but it does. I will never be able to unsee those two names together on a book without shuddering. (It’s not the same with James Patterson and the other Clinton because I lost respect for Patterson and his writing franchise decades ago.)

Life seems to be taunting me, getting the books to me now when I don’t care rather than long ago when I especially wanted to read them. But I will try to remember that these books were written pre-HRC when I still thought Penny was worth reading, and slog my way through them. If nothing else, maybe I’ll finally find out how her detective ended up in the tiny village of Three Pines. The first books I read had him living in the big city. The last books had him living in the village. Without the intermediary books, it’s an additional mystery, so I will watch for the move, enjoy the books as best as I can, and console myself with the thought that these will be the last books of hers I will ever read.

And anyway, with winter here, it seems only fitting to be reading mysteries that take place in the far north (farther north than here, anyway). One thing that fascinates me about books that take place in Canada is the peek at a country and culture that is so similar to USA, and at the same time, vastly different. Although we’re becoming a country divided by myriad languages, this is more by default than by design. Canada seems to have always been a country defined by its two languages and two cultures. Or maybe three when you include the First Nations. Unless I’m wrong about that? I have to admit, the only things I really know about Canada are from the authors I’ve read, not just Louise Penny, but Robertson Davies, Lucy Montgomery, and Margaret Atwood. And, of course, from people I’ve met online.

But I’m getting far from where I started this essay, which is the cold. Brrr! I hope you’re keeping warm this winter, wherever you are.

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Pat Bertram is the author of intriguing fiction and insightful works of grief.