It’s no wonder my hands are cold when the meat falls off them and the veins stand up between my knuckles. There’s nothing left to keep me warm, and the ice bites into my joints and my skin tears like tissue paper on the smallest snag. This never used to happen. I was tight and hot with nothing to fear, but now when I’ve fed the cows in the snow and felt the ice growing into my cuffs, it takes an hour to get warm by the fire. I feel the cold, and that’s new for me at thirty five.
And all the while, I grinned and bore three days when my knee was too hurt to walk for the simple sake of banging it on the byre door. Five years ago, I’d have found that bruise by chance and then wondered where it came from.
And what do I have to warm me by way of consolation? Well, my eyebrow hairs have begun to show a passionate lust for life. Some but not all of them grow like brambles in every conceivable direction. Cabling falls down from my nose and up from my lugs, and if that’s not grotesque then let me call it puzzling.
When I wake in the morning, the skin of my face holds the shape of a sleeping man. There’s give, and the bags hang through my first cup of coffee and sometimes into a second. And when they settle, I’m left with creases creeping between the corner of my eye and the edge of my ear. I’m curling into a million jokes about how it feels to grow old and I think of all those birthday cards that my parents would exchange with their friends about how time flies and hearing fails, and none of it was funny but calling it a joke allowed them to call it something.
I used to play on being young, but that excuse is getting tired. I have less to fall back on now. The next warm day we get, the larks will sing above the yard again. Another year in the making, and I worry that there’s more of this to come.