The house is quiet; the babe has finally settled down for a nap. I hurry outside, gathering an armload of wood as the sun slips behind the hills, signalling an end to our brief days.
I stoke up the fire, and fill the chipped enamel basin with hot water from the kettle on the stove. I light candles on the washstand and strip off the layers of sweaters and knit shirts that are like a second skin I seem never to be free of these days. I bend my head over the basin, dip my cup into the clear water and pour it out over my hair. I dip and pour like this, soaking my hair and enjoying the sensations. I scrub my itchy scalp, water dripping down my forehead, over my shoulders and down my back.
I wrap my wet hair in a towel and carry the basin over to the couch before the fire. It is cold outside but I am warm, wearing a fresh pair of long underwear, pulled up at the ankles. I ease my feet into the water, clouded now with spent soap suds. I relax back into the cushions, watching the flames that fill the stove, consuming the wood I've just brought in. My feet are blissfully bare, tingling. I wiggle my toes, happy toes free of socks and slippers.
My hair curls as it dries in the heat of the fire and the last of the twilight fades from the room.