A Dreaded Sound and a Welcome Sight

The sounds of Aomori winter elicit extremely specific reactions from me. For example, the clatter made by a gigantic, fifty-pound chunk of frozen snow falling from my apartment building’s roof and caroming off of the metal railings of my balcony garners a mini-heart attack. The howling symphony of the wind at two in the morning, accompanied by the constant rattle of my rickety windows and creaking of the walls themselves, gets a resigned groan and further burrowing underneath my thick, doubles-as-a-soundproof-barrier duvet. The steady dripping of water from the roof gets a grin, because it means that the snow is starting to melt. (This might be my favorite sound, and thankfully it’s starting to become more prevalent.)

There’s only one winter sound that I absolutely hate, and that’s the machine-gun clankclankclanking made by my kerosene heater when it’s run out of fuel. The reaction that noise gets? A steady stream of furious expletives.

Unfortunately, I haven’t been paying such close attention to the fuel gauge on my heater as of late, and that caught up with me last night when my heater alerted me to its empty stomach. It was too late to make it the half mile to the closest gas station before it closed, so that meant that I had a rather chilly evening. That wasn’t so bad, since I have a handy contraption that heats my bed and turns it into a little piece of heaven. But this morning was a bit frigid. Usually I huddle in front of my heater while I have breakfast, and it’s my home base while I get ready. This morning, though, my heater stayed dark and silent, instead of its usual cherry-red humming.

Couple this with some of those aforementioned banshee-esque winds and blowing snow, and by the time I got to work, I wasn’t the happiest of campers. Once a month, I go to a school for handicapped students that’s about an hour away on foot (I hate buses and like the exercise.), and today was one of those scheduled visits. As soon as I walked through the classroom door, my bad mood evaporated. Wouldn’t yours too, if this was what greeted you? The students had obviously been looking forward to my visit, and physical proof of that was enough to make me totally forget about my freezing morning.


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