Our house is dripping. The windows are sweating and there is rime on the outside soffits wherever the moisture has found breaches in the vapor barrier of the house. Opening the door releases a cloud of humidity into the starkly contrasting cold world outside, engulfing everything in a fog dense enough to cause nightmares in a Newfoundland fisherman.
Three of the stove-top burners are blasting away at pots of boiling sugar beets. The stove fan is humming, desperately trying to do its job of ridding the house of moisture. Our daughter’s fiddle is out of tune. There is a new scrape under one of the doors and another needs unusual persuasion to close properly. Suzanne’s hair is a mass of tight ringlets. Everyone’s skin is nice, wrinkle-free, offering a glimpse of our appearances a decade ago.
We have had another assembly line of production. Sugar beets have been double washed and scrubbed. Then peeled and sliced thinly or grated. Then boiled to extract and concentrate the sugar. And there is so much boiling that I worry that our ancient repurposed camp stove might take an early and unexpected retirement, even before it runs out of propane. Or that the outside of the house begins to resemble a quinzhee as the inside becomes resurfaced in slime mold.
I’ve taken to closely examining my appendages for early signs of webbing. Last night I awoke in a sweat, dreaming that the pain I felt in my leg was the first indication of its metamorphosis into a mermaid’s tail. After reassuring myself of the nonsensical nature of dreams, I feel comfortably back to sleep, only to awaken this time in a panic, thinking I was a goldfish trapped in an aquarium.
And so it will continue today; another assembly line of working children is planned. But first we must wait till they surface for the day and swim out of their rooms to demonstrate their new adornments of scales and slime.