winter is the season when every part of your life comes into sharp focus. every flaw in your life, every small thing that you’ve brushed aside, saved for later, or fixed “good enough” comes back to bite with cold, sharp little teeth. you plan for the worst and still come up lacking. snowflakes become avalanches, light breezes become blizzards. one broken cog will take down the whole machine. winter is the hardest row to hoe.

the bitter cold of january has arrived and brought a pack of problems with it. every insentient object hates the cold as much as we do. fenceposts fail, but are frozen fast and can’t be replaced. tank heaters that have worked all winter suddenly go on strike. everything creaks and teeters and threatens to tear free in a stiff gale.

i was wasting time tonight: watching trash on netflix, refreshing twitter, curled up under a pile of blankets with my dog, and thinking about going to bed. i heard a suspicious sound outside and went to investigate. what i found was three horses raiding the birdfeeders, three 900-pound birdies wrapped tight in their winter blankets, which insulate them from cold winds and wet snow, but also the stinging zap of the electric fence. they’d plowed merrily through the wire and headed straight for the bird feeders, guzzling up several pounds of black oil seed and just smiling when they saw me. getting them back in with a few flakes of coarse, over-ripe hay was simple and putting the fence back up was no problem, but i know that they know that the fence won’t bite and they’ll be back out again. maybe tonight, maybe tomorrow, maybe not for another week, but they’ll be out again, their cozy, warm blankets insulating them from all nasty things, including captivity.

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