I prefer winter and fall, when you feel the bone structure of the landscape - the loneliness of it, the dead feeling of winter. Something waits beneath it, the whole story doesn't show. ~Andrew Wyeth
I can’t say that I prefer it. It is bitter cold. The wind is whipping through our drafty attic and freezing my fingers. Gone are the gorgeous colors of fall. All the leaves are brown, and the sky is grey. We’re leaning away from the warm sun and feeling the frigid winter of deep space. Everyone has been sick, and we are extremely tired. But I have to agree with that underlying feeling of hope, that sense of promise when everything looks dead. Under the snow and ice, our heirloom tomatoes are waiting for us.
Upon review of our calendar from 2010, I am reminded of so many reasons to rejoice and to remember that, the winter will pass and the warmth will return to my fingers. Our people will be running naked in the backyard soon enough. Last year began with great difficulty. We got so much snow and were cooped up indoors for far too long. We had about six weeks of illness that nearly put me over the edge. Our Nurse Practitioner said, “These are the days that try men’s souls.” She was right. But we made it through. We snuggled and laughed and watched our babies grow and somehow were healthy once again. I am eternally grateful for pro-biotics and homeopathy.
The spring brought great changes. I began helping my in-laws with their restaurant and travelled back and forth to Columbus, OH with the help of Marco’s new pilot’s license. I changed diapers and gave bottles mid-flight. Then I cooked and cleaned and waited tables and designed a menu. I spent priceless hours talking to my mother-in-law, cherished memories indeed. Skype got us through the separation. I learned so much about cooking and restaurants and organization. I fell in love with food even more and got great satisfaction watching the restaurant grow. It was an amazing experience.
Summer was hot and humid and wonderful. I did far less laundry, as our kids were indeed naked most of the time. I took Maya to school on the bike and sweated off the baby weight. We picked berries and ate piles of tomatoes. Elliot and Zoe started walking in July. Elliot immediately used his skills to get stuck behind doors and under tables. Zoe started dancing. We purchased and destroyed yet another pool, but the kids loved it. There was a great deal of dangerous jumping around two very unstable walkers, so I nearly had a heart attack every day. But I can’t complain about summer. I can’t complain about fresh salads and salsas from the garden. I can’t complain about hanging out with the neighbors. And I certainly can’t complain about sunshine and warm toes.
You know that I love the fall. Maya fell in love with the leaves this year, which gave my heart an extra little surge of love for her and for the season. We tried to capture the colorful leaves in wax paper, but that utterly failed. But we collected them and piled them around our little pumpkin family. We jumped in them and threw them in the air and at each other. I taught her to smell the autumn air, the sweet aroma of fallen leaves and the crisp scent of apples. I reveled in the melancholy and attempted to prepare my spirit for the descending darkness of winter.
And now, here we are again, days away from the winter solstice, the darkest day of the year. But now my babies aren’t really babies anymore. I’ve got three toddlers now. Really I’ve got three climbing, running, yelling monkeys. And we’re sleeping once again, at least last night. Snow is falling as I write this. It’s in that gorgeous stage before anyone walks or drives when the world looks like it’s covered in powdered sugar. We’ve got the Christmas lights on and candles burning. My dad is coming over soon to play with the kids and laugh with us through dinner. I know it’s just the beginning, of winter, that is. December 21st just marks the start of this cold business. And, I must admit, most of the time I’m just complaining and dreading and even laid myself on the floor the other day in tears. Winter is tough and usually means long bouts of illness and cabin fever and aching bones. But today I’m trying to focus on the positive.
"Hear! hear!" screamed the jay from a neighboring tree, where I had heard a tittering for some time, "winter has a concentrated and nutty kernel, if you know where to look for it." ~Henry David Thoreau