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A Million Nameless Joys Await

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I just returned from a 90-minute walk in driving snow. My friend had to pick up something from work near where my PO Box is, and we both like walks in inclement weather, so we made the trek together on foot.

Now that I’m back in the warm, dry interior of my house, I’m enjoying a very cozy, very nostalgic, and very specific combination of sense experiences. Having shed my wet outerwear, and with the heater vents blowing, I’m now warm, dry, and extremely comfortable, but parts of my socks, pant cuffs, and hair are still damp because they’re the only things I’m still wearing that were exposed to the snow.

That particular experience—abundant warmth and dryness with dampness at the fringes, and a well-earned touch of fatigue—is exactly the same feeling I had as a kid every time I came in from playing in the snow. It still summons images of snowball fights, toboggan rides, and the ribbon of exposed grass you make when you roll up a snowman-ball.

If this particular state had a name, it might be Warming Up Having Just Come In From Outside on a Mild Snowy Day. It’s a very specific and familiar joy to those who know it.

It’s making me think of several other familiar yet nameless wintertime experiences, which any Canadian prairie-raised kid would probably know.

One would be Stepping Into Your Old Familiar Boots After Taking Off Skates. If you’ve never done that, I can’t explain how exceedingly soft and comfortable your everyday boots feel after having had your feet encased in tightly-laced shells of hard plastic for two hours. It’s like standing in clouds.

There’s also a surreal visual experience you might call Fresh Snow Night-Vision. It happens when you go for a walk on an empty street at night, when everything is white with fresh snow, and the sky is overcast. Somehow, I suppose because there are so few dark surfaces to absorb ambient light, you can see into every corner and contour with incredible clarity—almost well enough to read—even though the Sun is on the other side of the planet.

I love this stuff. It’s as comforting as a home-cooked meal to me, and perhaps to many Canadians, Minnesotans, Wisconsinites, and Scandinavians reading this.

To the rest of you, these experiences might sound nice, but have no visceral basis in memory.

You certainly have your own hyper-specific, familiar joys, however, and I can only guess at what they are, because they’d also be too obscure to have names.

Perhaps certain New Yorkers know, just as viscerally, the particular experience of a lazy summer Sunday in Central Park, with its oddly calm din of Fifth Avenue traffic, and intermingling scents of sunscreen and the Nuts4Nuts cart. (Or something… it’s not my world, so I can only make silly guesses.)

There must be, among the billions of unique corners of the human world, an untold galaxy of nameless familiar joys, uniting people whose place, time, and culture make a small, triangular Venn overlap. Night-shift warehouse receivers, perched on an open loading dock for their sunrise smoke break, the hardest work done already. Cadets, learning to shine the toe-caps of their boots, relieved to see the telltale shiny swirl-marks that appear just before the surface gets uniformly glossy.

I know those are dull examples, precisely because we can only make clumsy guesses at what rich, hyper-specific joys go on outside our lives. And that what’s so wonderful about them. They’re totally real, infinite in variety, but way too obscure to be known outside the little intersections of time and place in which they can be experienced.

In an era when it feels as though we’ve somehow seen everything already, or at least photos of it online, it’s comforting to know that out there, just beyond the boundaries of our own routines, await subtle flavors of joy we can’t conceive of.

Recently my sister and I were talking about how the once-ubiquitous institution of Saturday morning cartoons seems to have ended, which means nobody will ever again know one of the great recurring joys of our early years.

Her kids will never have the particular experience—which you may know yourself—of waking up at 6:30 am, fixing a bowl of Cheerios, flipping on the TV with its comforting, cathode-ray-tube “plunk,” and disappearing into the world of The Smurfs.

They’ll have their own, of course—specific, nameless joys, shared with certain others, completely unknown to everyone else.

***

Photo by Nicole Geri

{ 71 Comments }

Calen October 16, 2019 at 2:32 am

Alaskans too!!

Also, another (amazing) joy from my days in South Dakota:

Going home on a freezing day and sitting on my reclining chair, which was placed above a heating vent, with a full-sized blanket wrapped around the whole chair so that it trapped the warm air and contained it all in the blanket. We’ll call it the midwinter-blanket-heat-trap feeling.

I am also familiar with the post-skate boots feeling and the holy-fuck-I’m-dry-and-warm-now feeling. My favorite variant has always been the one where, for some inexplicable reason, my feet get toasty after I’ve walked around the house for a bit.

Hmm… let’s see. Other small, nameless joys…

One more. In keeping with the prairie spirit. South Dakota had a lot of rolling thunderstorms caused by warm and cold weather fronts colliding with each other; a thin line of thunder clouds would form above the collision line between the two fronts, and if a thunderstorm passed overhead, it meant you were passing from one front of air (often the size of an entire state) to another.

So, thunderstorms were intimately tied to the temperature and humidity. Usually before one passed, you were in a warm front; the air was oppressive and muggy and clung to you like a film. Then there was a rolling line of thunder and lightning that lasted a half hour. And if you were lucky enough to be outside walking as the storm passed, you’d be greeted by a dry, cool breeze once the storm moved east and the cold front rolled over. It was like magic.

And another favorite, as a bonus: at the end of winter, once the temperature hit 40 degrees F, and suddenly you could go out wearing a t-shirt.

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David Cain October 16, 2019 at 9:54 am

These are wonderful descriptions. Thanks Calen. I can relate first-hand to some of them for sure, particularly trapping heating vent air under a blanket.

Your comment about the changing weather fronts reminded me of the “dancing plastic bag” from the movie American Beauty. The character described the feel of that day at that time — “a few minutes from snowing… this electricity in the air.” It’s so hard to convey, but if two people know the experience, you can sometimes say the right things to summon it in the other person’s memory.

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A C Harper October 16, 2019 at 2:56 am

…and perhaps many visceral feelings seem to be anchored by smells or tastes. The smell of an early winters dusk around October/November (which used to lead up to Bonfire Night in the UK). The sounds and smells of a steam train pulling into the station to take you on holiday. The taste of your favourite meal (lamb ‘cutlets’, really lamb croquettes) at the restaurant your parents took you to occasionally when doing the ‘Saturday Shop’.

All of these joys more vivid than ordinary life. Thanks for the prompt to remember them once more.

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David Cain October 16, 2019 at 9:56 am

Smells and tastes seem especially potent for bringing us straight to certain memories. They’re just so closely tied to places and times. I suppose memory first evolved as a way of keeping track of food sources, so it’s not surprising.

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Naomi October 16, 2019 at 3:25 am

Yes! Not much snow here but it made me think of regular winter walks along the seafront when the cold wind screeches in your face and merges with the sea noise… and is a bit too cold, loud and painful for your ears, it hurts. But as soon as you get off the seafront and down the little side roads to walk home you can hear again… but then you’ve lost the raw natural ruggedness of waves that stop for no-one!

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Mike October 16, 2019 at 4:11 am

Peanut butter toast and Fraggle Rock on Saturday morning, perched up close to the TV so’s just loud enough to hear but not wake up Mum and Dad.

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Joanna October 16, 2019 at 9:29 am

Lol! I totally forgot about that trick!

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Richard Boys October 16, 2019 at 4:20 am

Thanks for this interesting post. I recently experienced what I call “my perfect moment”. It was very simple but I suddenly saw, just for a few minutes, the perfection of it. It was beautiful, but so ephemeral. I suspect that it is possible to experience every moment as a perfect moment, if I could transcend my inner barriers to reality. This site is tangentially related to your awareness and appreciation of the many simple pleasures that occur in every day life. https://www.youtube.com/user/obscuresorrows

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David Cain October 16, 2019 at 10:02 am

There does seem to be a kind of “way of seeing” that is unfettered by attachments, and everything seen that way seems perfect. Some interpret that as an intrinsic perfection behind the universe, and some interpret it as the result of habitual fetters in the mind that prevent us from seeing clearly. Or both I suppose… In any case it’s a deep rabbit hole, but there’s definitely something to it.

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Ellen Bell October 16, 2019 at 4:45 am

Living at the Jersey shore in October, when the gulf stream still warms the water and all the tourists are gone. Swimming for a bit, then negotiating the broken shells and surf to get out. Salt drying on your skin, then a cold shower by the boardwalk. Sand between your toes, gently removed by talc. Then steamers with broth and butter and a cold beer.

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Julie October 16, 2019 at 6:12 am

Waking up early on a hot July morning, grabbing a packed lunch and a plastic water jug and heading for the cornfields of Iowa to detassle corn. The dew on the corn, the smell of Iowa air, the leaves cutting through any exposed skin, the suction sound made by pulling the tassel out, and the feeling of combined exhaustion and relief when emerging from the last row.

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Mike LeBlanc October 16, 2019 at 6:24 am

Awesome post David… Stepping into my boots after taking off my skates… That one sure took me back to the days of playing hockey on the pond in the woods behind my house. It was a welcome feeling to remove the tight skates. But my boots were freezing cold after sitting there for hours outside by the bench at the pond. And that feeling of extreme thirst as you hauled all of your stuff slowly back home dreaming of a huge glass of water, wondering what my mom had cooked for supper. We never clued in to bring a jug of water…

Thanks for taking me back there… Thank you.

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David Cain October 16, 2019 at 10:05 am

I can relate! Have you ever read a book called A Prairie Boy’s Winter? It’s filled with a whole winter of moments like these.

https://www.penguinrandomhouse.ca/books/96241/a-prairie-boys-winter-by-william-kurelek/9780887761027

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David Howie October 16, 2019 at 7:27 am

Just reading this centered me. Beautifully done. Thanks, David.

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Kathe October 16, 2019 at 7:30 am

I grew up in upstate New York and I know exactly what you mean about the snow. Your wonderful descriptions brought it all back to me. Thank you!

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E Omar Sanchez October 16, 2019 at 7:32 am

Another great post David, thank you. It made me remember when I spent my summer vacations at my grandparents ranch in Mexico, coming back to my grandmother kitchen after milking my grandfather cows very early in the morning. My clothes and boots where wet from dew on the grass. The kitchen was warm, surrounded with a light smoke from the wood stove, a coffee smell in the environment and early sun rays coming through the roof.
It is amazing how much details come to your mind when you think about it, like if some body memory awakens within you.

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Julia October 16, 2019 at 7:53 am

David, I love your posts.

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Financially Fit Mom October 16, 2019 at 8:01 am

Growing up in small town Idaho and loving when I was able to help my dad and grandpa harvest hay in the late summer/early fall, I am drawn to country drives in the spring when farmers are out preparing their fields. The surrounding countryside is coming alive in brilliant greens and the soil is a deep brown with the hanging winter moisture. As they are freshly tilled in amazingly straight rows, waiting for whatever seeds will be plopped in and brought to life in the coming months. It’s such a fresh and renewing beginning and fills me with energy and excitement for the coming year.

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Alex October 16, 2019 at 8:06 am

Fall in New England – overcast, with the leaves swirling on the ground and vibrant colors of autumn everywhere. A freshness of air that is incomparable and a temperature that is perfect for hiking, walking — doing anything physical outside.

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Tara C October 16, 2019 at 8:07 am

I remember standing over the heater vent in my floor-length flannel nightgown with the hot air blowing it up like a balloon. Crawling into bed on a cold night with electric blanket cranked up to high. Coming inside after playing in the backyard at -30 and feeling my face hot and burning as we ripped off our snowsuits and sat down to hot chocolates. Winter on the prairies of Saskatchewan were beautiful.

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David Cain October 16, 2019 at 10:27 am

Everyone — I really love these vignettes, keep them coming.

That post-cold-face-burning feeling is so familiar to me still that I probably don’t notice it most of the time, but it’s such a hallmark of living in the prairies.

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Reed Nelson October 16, 2019 at 8:10 am

Indiana farm. Hot days putting up hay. Riding high atop the load, we would pass an apple tree that afforded a relaxed munch before unloading and fighting hornets in the hay loft.

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Joe from MN October 16, 2019 at 8:12 am

Wow – that was fun! Beautiful prose of winter moments/feelings that totally resonate with me.

Joe from MN

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Lola October 16, 2019 at 8:13 am

Once again a great post David I grew up in the South so I didn’t Relate much snow but the heat some time I can really feel the comfort coming From your words the only thing that I could relate to really is being a kid and running through the freshLaundrySheets Hanging on the line and the backyard were dry and smells so clean or my mother making breakfast for dinner because the kitchen would heat up the whole house she would put a purple blanket up to the Entrance of the kitchen blocking it off from the rest of the house then open up the back door and we would sit and eat eggs and bacon and biscuits for dinnerThey bring back such a comforting feelingThanks again David

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Lora October 16, 2019 at 8:14 am

As someone who grew up in Northern Wisconsin, yes to all of this. Plus the sound and smell of snow. Especially the squeaky sound snow makes when the temperatures dip way low. Favorite childhood memory: coming in from night sledding and putting on my PJs and dry socks… which had just come out of the dryer.

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Audrey October 16, 2019 at 8:25 am

There should be a word for it….perhaps start ‘The Dictionary of Definite Joys’ to counter ‘The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows’?

https://www.dictionaryofobscuresorrows.com

You’re not wrong about summer Sundays in NYC. Far better is when it snows. It’s magical. More so because of the contrast with the its everyday noise and movement and clamour. That sublime hushed sound descends, traffic virtually grinds to a halt, and you can hear conversations halfway up the block. I have seen people skiing down Fifth Avenue…

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David Cain October 16, 2019 at 10:35 am

It snowed the first night I visited New York! It was really beautiful but I had no sense of what’s normal yet.

I like the dictionary of obscure sorrows… but it makes me realize that for something to have a term, it has to be known by enough people for that term to come into use. So below a certain level of obscurity, an experience will always remain nameless, no matter how poignant it is to the few who know it.

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Audrey October 16, 2019 at 11:21 am

….and maybe more poignant for being nameless!

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Ginny October 16, 2019 at 8:27 am

Trick or treating with flashlights, bedecked in flimsy costumes over warm sweaters, feeling slightly clammy, exhilarated, and slightly wicked, tumbling and tramping through the grass.

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Michael Alan Gambill October 16, 2019 at 8:38 am

This is just another gentle reminder that all of life is a spiritual experience. It’s delicious, pure and simple. Thanks

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Dexter Ramey October 16, 2019 at 8:38 am

Walking while it’s snowing especially at night is one of the many things I look forward to every year. The solitude, the muffled sounds of the world around me disappear and everything feels at peace.

Thank you for this blog post

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David Cain October 16, 2019 at 10:37 am

Snow really does interesting things to sound. Cold air carries sound well, but fresh snow muffles reverberation really well. Fresh snow adds a kind of sonic clarity to the environment, especially at night when there are fewer sounds.

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Lynne Drake October 16, 2019 at 8:39 am

The smell of fresh mown grass.
The crunch of walking through autumn leaves.

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Montyne Morris October 16, 2019 at 8:40 am

I can name, or at least describe, several from my childhood, but not as many now. Thank you for the reminder to watch for and appreciate my little intersections.

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Jesse October 16, 2019 at 8:40 am

I was just in Norway, and they have a word which basically describes this feeling: Koselig (koosh-lee). It’s reductively translated as “cozy” by some websites, but my understanding is it’s so much more—basically what this post is describing.

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David Cain October 16, 2019 at 10:38 am

There is a well-known Danish word, hygge, that I think describes that same kind of coziness. But as you say, it refers to much more than that.

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Henna October 16, 2019 at 8:46 am

…and how experiencing these sensory things makes one feel like the world is as it should be! I remember last winter walking in the forest with my summer sneakers because the winter was late, just dark and wet but not cold for what seemed toooo long. And then that day I got my toes a bit frostbitten! And the day after there was some snow, and I heard the sound of snow under my sneakers… Yes, something visceral, and very comforting.

I live now further south and by the coast (in Scandinavia), so the winters are milder than where I grew up. I sometimes think it unconsciously makes me freak out even more about the effects of climate change because the non-rational comparison gets distorted. 200 km north and inland would fix my natural “clock”.

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David Cain October 16, 2019 at 10:42 am

It’s interesting how directly subtle differences in our sense perceptions are tied to feelings of safety and danger. I suppose the emotions that allow us to enjoy and appreciate subtleties are just the other side of the same system that makes us worried and alarmed when we notice things changing.

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Christine October 16, 2019 at 9:05 am

Your post brought back so many “perfect moment” memories and reminded me that those moments still exist in our everyday lives. Thanks so much for the reminder! Always poignant!

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Lorraine Allen October 16, 2019 at 9:06 am

Wonderful essay, David. And wonderful comments from others. I sure sat back and took a few walks down memory lane. The people who mentioned putting up hay got me to thinking of that. After a full day of slinging bales onto the wagon in the field, then on to the barn to store them, I remember us sitting side by side in the barn opening, swinging our legs and drinking a cold Co-cola. Content and anticipating what would come next. After drinking our coke, we’d head across the road to the cold, spring-fed creek, shuck our jeans and shirts (well, we girls kept our shirts on) and bathed and splashed all the sweat, grit and hay dust off ourselves. That particular contentment and anticipation could only be so sharp and satisfying because it followed the hard work.

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David Cain October 16, 2019 at 10:45 am

Ah this is great. I have also noticed that effect — that fatigue, soreness, and other feelings we don’t normally enjoy can feel good when they come alongside pleasant experiences. That’s how we can learn to enjoy the burn of working out, when if you felt that feeling without associating it with gain and achievement, it wouldn’t feel good at all.

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John October 16, 2019 at 9:29 am

I came across this poem yesterday and sharing it simply because of the snow reference and you being a writer. Enjoy or don’t, lol.

Poem
BY RON PADGETT

I’m in the house.
It’s nice out: warm
sun on cold snow.
First day of   spring
or last of   winter.
My legs run down
the stairs and out
the door, my top
half   here typing

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David Cain October 16, 2019 at 10:46 am

Hehe I enjoyed it.

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John October 16, 2019 at 12:13 pm

Ha, lovely. :)

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Joanna October 16, 2019 at 9:34 am

I am thankful for you bringing this memory to the surface. It’s funny how we can forget such joyful and simple pleasures. David- I was going to suggest that you ask your audience for examples of their nameless joys, but after reading through the comments, I see it’s already in progress.

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David Cain October 16, 2019 at 10:46 am

I was going to do that but forgot! Luckily people did anyway :)

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Fran October 16, 2019 at 9:39 am

I’m so glad you decided to write again. You are able to express what I’m unable to.

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David Cain October 16, 2019 at 9:43 am

Wow, I’m really loving everyone’s tiny nameless joys here. These kinds of details are part of what makes good novels good.

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Réjean Lévesque October 16, 2019 at 10:12 am

When I was 11-12, in North-Western Québec, in deep winter, I would go out at night and dig myself a deep hole in the snow, deep enough to let the wind go over me, and feeling cozy, I would watch the night sky, with its thousands of stars, an occasional aurora borealis, I would wish an alien starship would come and take me away.

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Nate October 16, 2019 at 11:13 am

Wow, I did the exact same thing! Right down to wishing I could board a starship and fly up into those stars. YES!

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Cheryl Thatt-Burbank October 16, 2019 at 10:45 am

Beautifully written! I grew up in Southern California so snowy days are not in my childhood memory warehouse. More like warm, hazy days. But Saturday morning cartoons were the stuff of legends…Wiley Coyote and Bugs Bunny (I’m giving away my age, here) with bagels and cream cheese, orange juice, and the background clink and clatter of my mom doing housework. Thanks for a wonderful post, David!

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Vicki Nelson October 16, 2019 at 10:57 am

I’m a new reader, and here to stay. Love your posts. This one is particularly nostalgic since I’m from Minnesota. The smell of winter – how do you describe that to someone who has never experienced it? Eyelashes frozen, hair stiffened against your head. It was horrible, and yet some of the best memories I have. Thank you for this!

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Linda October 16, 2019 at 10:59 am

Brilliant! I love this so much, particularly the feet in boots. Soooooo comfy! I remember distinctly the painful prickles in fingers and toes though, warming up after having been outside in the cold for too long (we did not have mild winters). Also, my sister used to eat her bowl of cheerios sitting cross-legged on the heat register, her nightgown up over her knees creating a tent of hot air. We would get mad at her for “hogging the heat” ;)

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Nate October 16, 2019 at 11:25 am

“Hogging the heat,” yes! We had a 100-year-old house with those old decorative metal heat vents in the floor, but there were 5 kids, so you had to rush to be the first to undress after coming inside so you could grab a spot on one ;)

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Linda October 16, 2019 at 11:03 am

Nuts! I was caught unawares by autocorrect. That should be “painful pRickles” not pickles!!

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David Cain October 16, 2019 at 2:47 pm

I liked the term “painful pickles” but I will edit it for you :)

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Nate October 16, 2019 at 11:09 am

I actually had one of these myself yesterday . . . let’s see if I can describe it. Again, it’s probably best understood by those in colder climates, but I think this one is open to a few more people.

October is my favorite month of the year, and, living in Wisconsin, mid-month is when a noticeable number of trees have changing leaves, and the temperature varies from mild and comfortable 60s to absolutely perfect 50s, all the way down to snowy and cold.

The past few days have been right down near freezing overnight, but last night we had a little break, and the weather was absolutely perfect, so after supper I decided to go for a walk. Hat and hoodie grabbed, I was out the door and into the night.

October is Halloween month, so a lot of the homes have decorations up on the house and in the front lawn, etc. Some cute, some corny, and a few genuinely creepy – it’s a great mix to walk around in.

So here’s the perfect feeling I’ll try to explain…

You’re walking down the dark sidewalk in the cool night air, cozy and comfortable hat and hoodie protecting you from the occasional brisk wind that picks up, blowing all the freshly fallen leaves into little swirls across your path. Once or twice per block you come across a tree just starting to transform into its brilliant fall colors, and other signs of autumn are all around. You can tell by the air that it’s that magic time right between a hot, humid summer, and just before the winter starts to really set in . . . most people will agree that it’s the best time of year in any cold climate.

The setting couldn’t be more perfect, and then on top of that, you get a little unexpected gift that triggers the nostalgia center: the timing is perfect so you’re in that early evening hour when the days are getting shorter, so people are home from work and eating dinner or bustling around in their homes, but haven’t yet shut their shades or closed their drapes for the night. It’s too cold for the windows to be open, so you can’t hear anything, but that’s even better, because as you walk by each house you get to see a silent little vignette of life inside every house that’s joyously lit against the dark. With decorations on the house and windows, webs in the trees and carved pumpkins on the porch, it brings back childhood memories of this time of year with all its spooky fun, and the knowledge that the true holidays are just around the corner, and pretty soon we’re going to settle in for the long winter. But not just yet, because right now, in this moment, everything is perfect.

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David Cain October 16, 2019 at 2:29 pm

I can definitely feel this one. Halloween night itself was always such a distinct combination of feelings… you have the late-October cold and dark, but the strange busyness of all these kids walking around and doors opening and closing, with warm greetings everywhere, but also skulls and spooky noises. Plus candy.

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Jon October 16, 2019 at 11:45 am

Wonderful post David! And you’re examples are not dull in the slightest! I loved the description of the warehouse receiver – “night-shift warehouse receivers, perched on an open loading dock for their sunrise smoke break, the hardest work done already.” I can see that clearly!

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Seamus October 16, 2019 at 12:27 pm

I used to work at an ice rink and for 95% of the shift, you’d hear the long-tailed reverberations of all the noise of hockey. But after that final dry cut of the ice on the zamboni, I was left with just the silence and stillness of a place built to house so many, now empty – it was so peaceful. I love being alone or with 1 or 2 friends in a place designed to hold hundreds or more.

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David Cain October 16, 2019 at 2:27 pm

I love this particular phenomenon too. My dad was a high school teacher and occasionally when he’d stop by the school in the evening to pick something up, he’d bring me along. It had the most amazing atmosphere, of being so empty and echoey but also feeling like much activity goes on their at other times.

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Laura October 16, 2019 at 1:08 pm

I have such a nice quiet peace after reading this. Thank you.

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Maureen Saringer October 16, 2019 at 1:19 pm

I live in Texas, with summers that seem, by late August, as if they will never end. And we know we are usually in for at least 6 more weeks of hot weather. But… once the kids go back to school, which here is usually before Labor Day, we begin to hear band students and football players practicing. Those sou da, which I can hear from my house, re.i s me that soon, cooler weather will return, followed soon by the holiday season.

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AMP October 16, 2019 at 1:37 pm

Minnesotan….add to the list, shoveling snow in shorts, a tee shirt, and a pair of unlaced sorel boots, casually unzipped jacket optional. The crisp air and cold snow, the sweat on my body from manual labor. That’s the stuff that life is made of. I love winter!

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Annie October 16, 2019 at 3:54 pm

As a native New Yorker one of my joys is the hush that overcomes this noisy, never-sleeping city when it snows heavily. I live next to a highway and bridge, and the daily traffic noises can be overwhelming, but when a heavy snowfall comes I step out on my terrace and enjoy the relative quiet and the softened sound of the occasional snowplow going by. Then my husband and I bundle up and go out into the snow to enjoy it before it turns into gray slush.

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Estelle October 16, 2019 at 6:07 pm

Love this. It reminded me that even though my everyday life seems so dull and regimented now, there are yet many of these simple joys that I haven’t tasted yet.

I moved to a new neighborhood this summer and I’m discovering that one of those new simple joys is the signature smells that fill the air in the evening. This summer, it was sun-heated grass and flowers – now, it’s that distinct autumn smell that reminds you of a distant campfire.

I lived in a very dense area before so I was used to, err, unpleasant aromas. This is nice. Shit has been hard, but this is nice.

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Angie unduplicated October 16, 2019 at 7:37 pm

Thank you, especially Nate. We just received our perfect autumn here in Southern Appalachia, rainy night followed by a cool crisp fragrant windy day, with the faintest trace of early leaf fall in its scent. I am aching for a campfire and marshmallows on a night too cold for mosquitoes.

Soon, it will be cold enough that hard work won’t make me break a sweat, and I will realize why Yankees love their icy days.

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anna October 16, 2019 at 8:48 pm

Memories are flooding in with feelings and smells and sounds. Im remembering clubbing days in London… ive danced all night and my legs are aching but i’m so happy and coming out just as the sun is coming up and walking along and coming across st Pauls cathedral completely alone like some film where its the end of the world and everyone is dead. The sky is grey infront but because the orange sun was behind me the buidings i was looking at are bright red with the background grey.

My husband and i get up at two in the morning in winter in the birthing season to check on the cows. We put on heavy army army coat over our pyjamas and boots then go out with a torch. I can hear the sound of the boots on the gravel echoing then we go into the barn with its one lightbulb lit and they are all lying on the warm hay sighing and mooing occasionnally… that warmth that is different to the cold exterior, the echoing sound, the sighing of the cows i wish i could explain it. Then we go back to bed and get warm under the sheets.
Im feeling sad that i cant think of many of these feeling and memories that have happened recently. Have i got too caught up in lists and picking up kids and making dinner etc… to notice these moments? Im sitting here at three in the morning in silence with the tick tock of the clock and a slight hum of the refrigerater. My family are asleep upstairs. This is one of those moments now. Im looking forward to noticing more tomorrow.

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Levi October 17, 2019 at 12:47 am

Thank you David for this wonderful post. As a Scandinavian I can absolutely recognize exactly those feelings that you are bringing to mind – even down to the saturday morning cartoons with my sibling. I think about these specific feelings a lot actually, but I would never have been able to form the words in my mind like you put them here. I am really happy to have read this post. Keep up the great work!

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David Cain October 17, 2019 at 9:21 am

Thanks Levi. I hope this winter brings many of them!

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Steph October 17, 2019 at 4:10 am

You actually had me shivering for a moment with the memories of taking off skates.
Another from my childhood:
Going chestnut “hunting” as a family in the gold and wet october afternoon. There was moist soil and crinkly leaves, our fingers were being pricked by the burs and we would get quite cold. Then, back home, we would roast the chestnuts in the chimney and that feeling of warmth near the fire with the crackling of logs and the smell of roasting chestnuts. This to me, is childhood in autumn.

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