Overnight, the thaw brought changes: unbroken patches of snow were now porous jigsaw puzzles tufted with grass. I walked to work in the late morning while the sunlight was soft, filtering through a scrim of haze. I passed a chorus of chirps emerging from a dense bank of evergreens, a cabal of birds, happy in their secrecy.
The sting of cold on my face of the last several days was now replaced by a cool balm as I made that short walk to the hospital. Recent arctic weather had jarred with its abrupt appearance. It jangled with habits formed thus far in the season - of my careless throwing on a woolly scarf and a middling-warm jacket, outdoors attire too breezy for the weather at hand.
I was chastened into donning my thick down-filled coat, and I wound my scarf a bit more snugly, the obligatory dapper knot secured at the chin.
But this morning, the swaddling proved unnecessary, and I arrived at the hospital flushed, in an incongruous bundle.
My patient lay in bed, recovering from an early morning procedure. She looked weary but strands of her hair were still perfectly in place. She was starving from the overnight fast required by the procedure and was now craving a big piece of prime rib - an indication to me that she was on the mend. She would be going home later that day as the results of her test were benign. We need to make some changes in your medications, I told her, to prevent theproblem from recurring. She nodded with understanding, and I proceeded to make the necessary arrangements for her going home.
At home, I sat down to cups of sencha. There was the first infusion with its bold and less nuanced flavors, while the second infusion warmed me with its sweet, steady notes. A box of clementines was almost empty, and I took out the last few to have with my tea. The trim clementines, poetic in name and eminently functional in size, graced our kitchen at this time of the year. We'd eat a bowlful at a time and feel virtuous as we avoided dipping into the bag of unctuously sweet peanut brittle nearby.
A splash of orange, an intimation of a warmer season, relieves us from the tedium of the hardy staples of fall and winter. For the time being, I bit into a clementine and forgot about cabbage salads and thick butternut squash soups.