Rain streaks the windows, a melodious tap marks the origin of the leak near the fireplace. In the loft it’s cold, the fire’s warming prescence muffled by the stairs and small hallway. Above is the muffled pounding of millions of rain drops, waging an unceasing battle to break through the roof like their brethren traveling down the chimney. With great effort I pull myself out of bed, the chill sapping my body of the heat the blanket provided. But it’s at least five degrees warmer downstairs where the fire still smolders, hot coals glowing behind the window. I throw another log on the fire and check the temperature. 18.3 degrees celsius, not bad for a stormy 2 am. I remind myself that it’s only the beginning, that it’s going to get a lot colder before it gets warmer. Penny’s house is wrapped in Brittney’s 5 degree down sleeping bag, she might be warmer than any of us. Though Porter looks pretty content curled on the couch in front of the fire, nose buried in his fury paws.
The leak isn’t bad, just a slow but steady drip where the wood finish of the house meets the stone pillar of the chimney. But my common sense isn’t awake even if my body is, and I finally just put every pot from the kitchen at the base of the chimney. Let the drips fall where they may, some of them have to hit stainless steel.
It has become our nightly routine, the alarm going off every two or three hours. Get up, slip downstairs, check the temperature, fuel the fire, go back to bed. We’re long past the days of turning a dial for warmth, fiberglass insulation nonexistent, I prefer it this way. Because come morning there will be no commute, no time clock, no “I have tos.” I climb the stairs, every other step creaking, a stomping like a herd of elephants behind me announces that the cat has decided to move upstairs too. I crawl back under the down comforter, the rain pounds even harder. Porter curls up on Brittney’s pillow, almost smothering her face.
Our east facing windows stream early morning light into our room. A rouge sun beam storms through the thin curtains and crawls up the bed. But if there’s sun the storm may be over. The scattered clouds are ablaze with golds and reds as the sun slowly moves above the mountains on Vancouver Island. A whisper comes from the speaker connected to the hydrophone system next to our bed. Three pods of orcas past through in front of the lab yesterday but didn’t make a sound. They rose in a perfect resting line, a phalanx of fins rising and falling as one. Sixteen orcas in all, and not a boat to be seen anywhere. The boy in me wanted to get closer, to follow them for awhile, but I could find no justification for it. They’ve waited months to have the strait to themselves, let them have it.
The whisper grows, delicate ‘pings,’ begin to echo through the speakers, the trademark call of the G pods. Brittney is up like a shot, without a backward glance she runs for the lab while I’m still looking for socks. What have I done to her? I brew coffee, feed the pets, and listen as the calls come closer and closer, the bright red clouds streaking across the heavens, reflecting into a pink sky above. The water is flat as a pond, it’s going to be a glorious day.