Hot tub on a cold night

It’s bitter cold in D.C. tonight. Low 20s at best. Shivering in my own house, I decided there was only one cure: a soak in the hot tub.

The hot tub was already set to 104 degrees, so I stripped down and dashed out into the dark cold. A thin sheet of ice had formed along the cover’s edge where steam met freezing air. I flipped open the top, crystals crackling, steam wafting. Wasting no time, I plunged into the hot water and settled in for a long soak.

I purposely kept the lights off, so as I sat in the dark, I could barely make out the steam rising from the water’s surface and reflecting the moonlight. Jets taking off from Reagan National streaked overhead as clouds silently streamed against the starry night.

Watching the stars play hide and seek behind the clouds and waving branches, I listened to the gurgling hot tub and soft breeze. Orion looked down at me from above.

No internet. No interruptions. No worries.

I could imagine distant sailors or native peoples or future astronauts looking at that night sky — at light millions of years old — seeing far more than I.

When I was a kid, I would eagerly look at the twilight sky, searching for the first pinpoint of light so I could recite the poem:

Star light, star bright / First star I see tonight, / I wish I may, I wish I might / Have the wish I wish tonight.

Usually that was followed with “Please let the Browns win this weekend,” or “Please let the Indians win today.” My desires were modest. Even though, they were rarely met. Years later I learned that first star was probably Venus and, as a planet, wasn’t in a position to answer my request.

Tonight I made no such wishes. I just looked and enjoyed the hot water. Then, wrinkled and sweaty, I emerged from the tub back into the cold, crisp air. Warmed an extra few degrees, my body now kept the cold at bay.

For now.

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