A Final Rambling…

The words themselves that we use to describe the season of winter are as terse in sound as the season itself – bitter, blustery, biting, chilling, arctic – all resonate with a sharply negative sound that feels much like the season as it bears down on us. Mired in layers of clothing as we fight Mother Nature’s determination to steal our body heat. Snowflakes at first laced with serene beauty and peacefulness as they fall from the skies become piles of dirty debris and stone as they are moved aside to allow us to attempt at our daily routines. Children clamor in the morning with hopes to hear of a school closing – or at least a delay – while parents stress over how to accommodate them should they occur.

Winter is certainly a child’s season. Sledding and snowmen, snow angels and snowball fights are “fun” for the young. Oblivious to the cold, they romp and dance in a fresh snowfall like a ballerina on stage…. fingers and toes tingling and noses running to be ignored in exchange for the vigorous need to stretch their limbs…to laugh with glee and childish joy…

The foods we tend to enjoy in this coldest of seasons reflect our desire for warmth – stews and hearty soups become a regular fare on the menu from which we will feed ourselves. Oh, and we will indulge…no longer hostage to the swimsuit diets of summer… sweatshirts and sweatpants replace shorts and a tee – good at hiding those extra layers we put on our bodies in an attempt to provide even more warmth to them. And the holidays of the winter season allow us to over-indulge our palettes as well… turkey, ham and all of the traditional trimmings. And there will be dessert with these meals, which we’ll make room for in our stomachs no matter how much we’ve eaten. Holidays are causes for celebration and while the children are more interested in the gifts, the adults are more interested in a pretty table laden with our finest dishes – bowls and platters over-flowing with the food items we “save” for a holiday meal.

Nonetheless, the season of winter keeps us on edge – always concerned about events even beyond school days that are scheduled to occur and may have to be cancelled. We listen intently to weather reports….the merest hint of an impending storm has us rushing to the store for necessities – like the squirrels feeling the change in weather and hurriedly searching for food that will keep them fed when the ground is covered with snow…

And the trees – stripped bare of leaves except for the hearty evergreen – whose boughs toss and curl in the gusts of wind – become laden and bent with snow as it falls and sticks to them….

After the holidays, the real ‘feel’ of winter becomes ominous. No longer gatherings and celebrations to look forward to and plan for… life becomes a routine that is mundane and without change – we fight our internal desire to hibernate inside while we cringe against the undaunting task of bundling up for a trip outside. We admonish ourselves for all of those times, during the heated and humid summer, when we wished for colder weather.

Winter is. Unlike the other seasons, it shows no great changes as it passes. Except for the avid skiers, most of us wish for a ‘mild’ winter. We feel stagnant, and daylight dawns too late while dusk falls far too early. Grumbling about driving to work and home again in the dark… grumbling as the wicked wind finds its way through our deepest coats to chill us… grumbling because the dog needs let out… grumbling about the heating bill… grumbling because the kids are full of energy and have nowhere to expend it… grumbling because we need to take the trash out… just grumbling about what seems like an eternity of time as this season slowly passes… Relying on our faith that spring will eventually come, according to Mother Nature’s plan, and wishing she’d just get on with it already…

If we’re lucky, the first hints of spring do finally show themselves sooner than later… a melting of the now detested piles of old snow, the first flower of spring peeking its head above the barren ground, the joy at seeing what we know as “the first robin of spring”. Anticipation begins to build slowly as we wait for the genesis of spring to show itself, our guarantee that we’ve somehow successfully muddled through the deviousness of winter… Soon, our schedules of coming and going each day will appear at the onset of dawn and end at the onset of dusk…

Hope renews – that is the gift that spring gives us with its arrival – and we take notice of the changes in the outside world with zealousness… buds on trees, the sounds of birds, grass starting to be green instead of brown… crocus and forsythia showing off in delight that they, too, have survived, followed by daffodils, tulips and hyacinths. We await the days until we’re 100% sure we can stash those heavy coats, gloves, scarves and boots that have laden us. We don’t think about the onset of summer and those summer days when we’ll be again wishing for the cold weather that has just released us from its torment…

Living life, to me, seems like the seasons. We adjust through the changes, grumble about the ones we don’t like (winter), glory in the ones we do like (spring) and just get busy living life the rest of the time (summer and autumn). Our moods tend to elevate and ebb according to the seasons as well. If only we could have the same hope, when within our mood of winter, that spring will revive us…

I live in a place with 4 seasons. I still prefer cold over hot. I couldn’t imagine living in a place without snow, I couldn’t imagine Christmas without thinking it will be cold. (I admire my friends in the southern hemisphere who celebrate this holiday in what is the middle of their summer.) What each circle of seasons teaches me is to have faith that things will not remain just as they are at a given moment… that living life is also a cycle with its goods and bads in each cycle… and the best we can ever hope for is to be alive for the next cycle….

(P.S. If you’re in the midst of the heat wave starting today and lasting through the weekend here in my part of the country, I hope this made you think “cool” while you read it!)

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