The room is warm and smells of expatriates, a peculiar blend of locally unavailable spices and foreign laundry detergent. There is a pile of completed books by the door, dwarfed by the stacks still unread beneath the window in the opposite wall. I am finishing up a few things I’ve been meaning to do for many months, small projects, minute tidyings, a scribble here and there. I thought I’d lost a handkerchief, but I hadn’t. There is coffee in a thermos and milk – carried 68 km, aseptic packed, from the nearest market that stocks such things – in the fridge, which has been turned on in deference to the unseasonably warm weather.
On Sunday it was warm enough to air the bedding, the sky blue and clear, ice thawing on the roadway. We stacked everything outside in the sun, wool-filled blankets and mattresses fluffed and drooping, feather-filled pillows plumply perched on the balcony railing. We groom the bedding, turning it, rotating it to absorb air and sunshine, the smell of smoke and winter. Toward evening, we bring the bedding back inside, the mattresses softer than ever, the blankets rested and ready for sleep, and everything soaked with soporific freshness.