11 February

The Nastiest Day: Two People Alone, In Love, Isolated From The World

by Jon Katz
The Challenge Of The Nastiest Day

“Two people in love, alone, isolated from the world, that’s beautiful.” – Milan Kundera

Today may be the nastiest winter day ever, at least in my memory. There is a thick and wet sheet of ice over everything, we cannot get to the car or close to the pasture, unless we veer through the deep snow.

I’ve been forbidden to go outside and do anything, and I’m not fighting it. Maria is lighter and has killer snow boots. These restrictions made me feel vulnerable and unhappy. But I accept them. I know what it means to fall.

And you don’t want to fall on that ice, for sure. I admit to fantasies about New Mexico, and even the a beach somewhere along the Atlantic Coast down South. Where it is warm, and I can walk. For some reason, I never wish to live in Florida, I’m not sure why.

We’ve been trapped inside the house all day, no movie, no eating out. I get to cook. It’s kind of special. We are cut off from the world, we can’t really go anywhere, the snow and ice continue to fail, Two people in love, alone, isolated from the world, that is beautiful.

There is nothing to escape too, for all the grayness and cold. This is where I would escape to.

Maria and I do not tire of one another, and she is buzzing around the house tending to plants, sketching, reading, talking. We’re thinking of playing chess tonight, or looking for a worthy move on Netflix. Or just reading. I’m cooking fish tonight for dinner, salmon for her and Haddock for me.

We did find something strange on Netflix, a Spanish movie about a rebellion in Morocco.. Then I actually got on my stationery bike and read.

Maria is feeling better, she is over her bug or her cold, a bit pale but just about normal.

We dropped plans to go see “The Shape of Water,” it was just too risky. Got some new novels to read, eager to get to them. More later.

The challenge of this wet nasty day is that it forces me to consider where I am and if I secretly – or openly –  want to change it. The answer is no.  On days like this you have to look inside of yourself, or at least I do. Milan Kundera wrote in The Unbearable Lightness Of Being that the person who longs to leave the place where he lives is an unhappy person.

I have been an unhappy person, and for much of my life, yearned to leave the place where I lived. It is sometimes valuable to realize how unhappy you are, and I left that place and came here, to this remote and isolated and cold place, where I became happy.

The Nastiest Day talks to me, and asks, “are you sure?”

And I am sure. I am happy, and do not ever yearn to be somewhere else. There is a lesson in that, and I finally learned it.

I’ve learned that many people are always shouting that they want to change, to leave, to move, to create a better future. It’s not always true The past is bursting with life, the future is a gray void, empty and dark, of little interest to me. The past is eager to irritate and upset me, provoke and insult me, tease me with regrets and the thought of destroying or repainting or re-imagining it.

Sometimes I think of all the things I would do differently, say differently, think differently. What an empty vessel that is.

The only reason I can think of to be a Prince of the Future is to somehow change my past. For me, there is no other reason, and that is not a good enough one. Thanks to the Nastiest Day for reminding me where I  wish to be.

Where I live.

Two people in love, alone, isolated from the world.

That is beautiful.


  1. We had a horrible ice storm in Lexington, Ky and our electric power went out for a few days. But, because we live in an old building we still had gas and I could cook by candlelight, and we lit candles, and talked through the dark night. I loved this moment in my history. Quiet, darkness.

  2. a long ago winter day in rural far upstate N.Y. when the children were young.
    in this old farm house
    with the river rock celler
    looking out from any window
    trees barren of leaves stand as black silhouettes
    against a winter grey sky.
    snow is steadly falling
    a fickle wind pushes it in to drifts
    lifts it up in great gusts from
    the field across the road and blows
    it about in mist like baby powder.
    inside the lights are on, oil lamps
    stand ready for the flick of a flame
    upon the wick
    wood waits in small cart
    ready to replenish the wood stove
    I’ve set a large pot of water upon
    this stove with orange an apple peelings
    to scent the air.
    the walk-in pantry is full of
    grocerys from the store,
    home canned jars of applesauce
    from apples picked just this past September,
    from our garden tomatoes cooked up stewed
    then canned are ready for soups an sauces,
    and sliced golden peaches also canned in days of
    summer heat are ready to fill us up
    body and soul.
    standing at the kitchen sink looking out
    the window above it, the ledge holding little items
    found by small hands,
    i listen to the wind howling,
    snow pellets hitting the glass.
    snug inside, from the living room
    i hear the low background noise of the tv
    my childrens laughter.
    here with me in the kitchen waiting for suppertime
    the dogs lay like large, fluffy, rugs
    watching my every move.
    turning to them i say
    ” oatmeal and bacon for supper ? ”
    thier ears twitch at the word bacon.
    during supper we’ll eat summer canned peaches
    with our oatmeal
    while broken pieces of bacon fall
    to the floor from small hands.
    though many years past
    blessed with having this memory so clear
    as I sit here next to my husband
    the ‘ children ‘ just a phone call away
    on this wet, dreary evening.

  3. What beautiful thoughts, Jon. I do hope you gat out to see The Shape of Water soon. It could be just the “escape” you need. Take care…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Email SignupEmail Signup