Nope, nope, nope.

There are places on the internet where the word “nope” signifies the writer’s absolute refusal to encounter something, something so horrible, hideous, or terrifying that articulation fails beyond the single syllable. Generally this is reserved for giant spiders, palm-sized cockroaches, and black mambas.

While I have made good friends with spiders over the years; even tree roaches don’t make me scream unless they are making straight for me; and I’ve worked out a deal with venomous snakes whereby I won’t get close enough to see them and they won’t get close enough to sense me, this morning I encountered a big mean nope:

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I know, I grew up in Connecticut, right? What’s the big deal? Even all these decades later I’ll happily go off for a week of downhill skiing. Several of the plastic bins in the garage are labeled “Winter Play Clothes” with my name attached. But despite the fact that I was swaddled from head to toe, layers, hat, scarf, coat and gloves, this morning when I walked out the north wind merely laughed. Within minutes I could feel my face and fingers wanting to ice over just as they do when it’s twenty below.

I walked one block, took a few photos, turned on my heel and came home. Nope.

Be nice: if you were offered a choice between suffering such discomfort for the sake of your art and returning to a living room that offered a lively fire, unlimited episodes of “Downton Abbey,” and all the hot tea you cared to drink, which would you choose?

I will say in my own defense that before I retreated into the house I hauled a couple of potted plants into the garage and threw a blanket over a few of their outdoor friends. It may be too late; they may melt like dead balloons as soon as it’s warm enough to melt. I’d sworn that this year I was going to cull the herd dramatically, getting rid of everything in the landscape that refuses to endure whatever meteorological treats Austin has to offer.

But you know how it is: the little things pull at whatever’s left of my conscience, and I find myself hauling just one or two more out of the cold. Last night it was a rosemary that lives high in my regard because she is a prolific bloomer and the bees love her for it. This morning, one tequila agave and one weird cactus.

I don’t think there’ll be any more rescues, though. Anything that can’t tolerate a night of hard freeze is now past saving. I think I’ll put on a pot of red beans and rice and watch the episode where poor Lady Edith is left at the altar.

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