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December 5, 2006
My office isn't very well-heated -- it's over the open front porch, so the heated air from downstairs never makes its way up here. I have a space heater, but last week it gave a pop and a buzz and began to smoke, so I guess that's more or less it for the space heater. None of us live forever.

It didn't matter much, really, until yesterday Only then did I get around to changing the screen windows into storm windows -- it's been so warm up until now, we haven't needed the extra protection. But that changed yesterday: suddenly, the weather is seasonable, and "seasonable" means downright chilly.

I am always impressed by how great a difference that extra pane of glass-- actually, the air in between the two panes -- makes to the comfort of the room. No drafts. I still must write in a fleece jacket and a laprobe, but it's much warmer in here. The air itself keeps us warm. Our down jackets, our thick wool sweaters: they all have their loft because they are full of air, and it is the air in them that keeps us warm.

I see the downy jacket of air that surrounds the whole earth every time I fly. We are five miles high, for most of our flights, too high for the people in the plane even to live on their own out there -- it can be forty below zero in the air outside the plane, and it's too thin to breathe. But eventually we descend, and we always descend through clouds, through the blanket of air and water that cloaks the earth, reflects and refracts the sunlight, bouncing it back and forth, multiplying its heat and holding it close to the ground, to all the people and plants and animals who live here.

It could so easily be otherwise. We could be cold, lifeless in the dark of a world that had never known life.There are many such worlds.

But we landed here, on this temperate jewel hanging in space, covered with water, cloaked with cloud -- and, upon closer inspection, green. We got a chance to live here. What a blessing the very warmth of life has been, when we could have been so cold.
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