January in the northern hemisphere is possibly the hardest month for this native of the subtropical southern hemisphere. Though the desert offers plenty of sun, the days are short and the nights oh! so cold.
I didn't help matters by inviting the radical disruption of having the old, rotting single pane, wooden windows replaced. In my defense, I started the process in September last year, hoping to have it done before winter. It took until early January for the contractors to turn up with the eight new, vinyl, energy efficient, double pane etc windows. It's not easy to hurry the river in this sparsely populated rural region where there are few qualified and competent in any field, and even fewer willing to work on old house maintenance.
When first I met the shala, I vowed that I would restore the old 1940 wooden windows. I even bought some books on restoring sash windows and a box of reproduction brass clasps.
More than five years later, the ancient windows were still ancient, the books donated to a library book sale and the brass clasps buried somewhere deep in the pantry. It had become clear to me, even before I became clumsy by breaking some important bones last year, that I lack the carpentry and engineering skills to do the restoration job.
The state of the windows was also not making enduring bitter cold January winter nights any easier.
Beautiful in a poetically weathered desert archaic kind of way though they were, these old windows also regularly rattled and shed sealant putty, whole panes of glass threatening to follow, with each sonic boom from the frequent Spaceport launches to which we have become subject. Billionaires don't care whose homes their egos destroy.
I took a deep breath, set aside some delusions of carpentry competence, and set the process of window replacement in motion. The old stone and adobe shala is now decked out with new vinyl windows all around.
Though there are one or two small defects in manufacture which await correction, for the most part these new windows open and close so amazingly smoothly, in part because they have not yet been made gritty by desert dust. They have insect screens and, being infused with, or made from, a UV and heat reflective substance they are like mirrors from the outside, during the day. I am not even sure if these are technically glass even though they look, feel and behave like glass.
The sparkling brand new cleanness probably won't last. The annual super dusty spring winds are imminent. Until then I marvel at the clarity of these new portals in old walls. I'm still the untidiest, most ramshackle house on the block. New windows haven't fixed that.
I have also been appreciating the sound cancelling quality. I still hear traffic and animals outside, but it's duller now.
And no more shaking and rattling, not with the sonic booms nor the neighbour's very robust car sound system. That last one's the biggest blessing since they tend to be crepuscular.
Of course when I am outside, working in the garden, spreading compost and enjoying the sun, I still hear and feel everything. On the off chance anyone was wondering, that wire hog panel is there for sugar snap peas to climb. Fingers crossed. Garlic in the far background is thriving.
There is a saying: "when fishermen can't go to sea, they mend nets." One could say my January has embraced a lot of mending nets.