This morning the sun shown on a grey receding cloud, and the winds didn’t arrive. I’m sure they will later, but for now, my small dogs are not pretending to be kites when they go for an outing. My garden is finally, and officially, dead. Well, some of it will be back in the spring. I love perennials, they are repetitive, tough, colorful, changing and much less work. I water them, feed them and ignore them. That’s also my recipe for orchids and african violet care.
The annuals of winter are frosted leaves on a forest floor, snowflakes (if we ever get so lucky), and neighborhood children still in the snowsuit phase. The laughter they give sounds like pearls, or tinkling icicles, or even perhaps, silence. Silence of a winter fog makes the world shake. People rush for their covers, but not me. I like to stand outdoors with the wind in my face, a sweater, sometimes even my shoes on. It’s bracing, something some will never understand. I grew up in Minnesota. Winter was magic. It was pure, untracked (until school kids and dogs created trails), and I felt at home. The cold has always been a sign of peace for me. Trouble goes indoors, fighting takes too much energy, and there is hot chocolate stirred with a candy cane.
I like the end of football. The pause before baseball is only momentary, but that pause gave me skating, sliding, and skiing. I watch other people have fun doing these things these days. The contemplation of the rules of winter never bothered me when I was young. Coat, hat, gloves, scarf, hood, layers of layers beneath the overcoat, lined boots and double socks were my attire back then. San Francisco was tempting wonder which had all of these things within a few hours drive. Virginia was an even greater surprise. My first winter in Virginia, it was in the 50s, like this year. There was no ice, snow, bracing air and I wondered that there was a place on earth like it. Then came several winters of note, two with the high mounds along the community roads that reminded me of snow forts, snow ball fights, walking the ridge to see if we had to touch the pavement on the way to school.
So, what did I do for Virginia snow? I shoveled sidewalks for fun. I was one of the first out the door, if it was light enough with a broom. I actually had to find a shovel to buy. It was bright orange plastic, easily shattered and didn’t live long. It was a needed winter sacrifice. It took me until April to find a good sturdy shovel that would last.
My husband hates snow if he has to go out. He drives a truck, with two trailers usually. He can plow through the snow, but it is amazing at how many small cars rush to get in front of him only to panic because they can’t see, found ice or found fear. Huge brown truck, itty bitty cars. SUVs are worse. They think they can outrun and out perform anyone else on the road. Some are 4 wheel, but not all. They forget that for an SUV to stay on the road, all four feet should be on the ground. I meant four tires, but you get the picture. I loved the old commercial of the “living” SuuVEE giving instructions on how to survive. I loved teaching when there was snow. Feet up, fire lit, eyes on a new book or grading papers that all too often I had fallen behind on. I kept the TV on a music channel. My boisterous children went out to play and returned an hour later for board games, cardboard box castles, and dragon attacks. The dogs were the dragons, my daughter a princess of the castle, and my son a knight in shining armor. My daughter saved the dragon, the castle and my son laughed. He always laughed. He was golden sunshine, but my daughter, she still is her own mystery. Snow.
I have so much to do to be ready for snow. It’s a good thing it isn’t in the forecast yet. I have the removal of the holiday decorations, cleaning, sorting, throwing and napping. The naps are most important because I dream of winter. My past is filled with winter memories. My father leaving at 3 am to make ice for the city children to skate on. It had to be freshened every night to create a safe place with no toe holds dug in. My first ice skates that had been in the warming trailer for over a year with no one claiming them. You rolled up socks and put them in the toes so they wouldn’t slide on your feet. Sliding on ice in the street on the way to school. Stomping through slush that made me feel like a giant. My high school hockey team making the playoffs one year and the band going to play to support them. My mouthpiece and horn never did warm up completely. Walking to college classes with a -20 degree F wind. The campus closing for an entire two days because of 30 inches arriving with wind and a bad attitude.
I’ve been told I live in an alternate universe from the rest of the world. That’s okay. I was always a bit of a dreamer. No, not true, I was always a dreamer. Winter didn’t require friends to make me happy, it just did. It still does. Sleeping dogs and a feisty cat keep me company when I am alone. One catches snowballs. One tunnels. Frankie, the cat, lifts her toes as she walks onto the deck and turns with a sigh of disgust. She doesn’t like cold feet. I lift her, hold her close, and she and I watch the birds. First thing in the morning is the bird food. Then the cat and dogs find their feasts in ceramic bowls I made with love for old friends now memories. They like the bowls.
The sun will set before I am ready, tonight. I’ll keep an eye on the weather channel. I’m hoping for a winter wonderland.