Last week, when it was -15 degrees and we were throwing hot water out the window, it occurred to me just how long it had been since I’d been outside for more than a few minutes.
I never used to think things like that mattered much — you know, sunshine, nature, air …
One season blended into the next. It wasn’t until I had children — outdoor-loving, nature-adoring children — that I started to feel the seasons.
“It feels like spring,” I say now, when the snow starts to melt, and the green starts to show.
“It feels like fall,” I say now, when the air gets crisp, and the leaves get crunchy.
But this winter. This winter has just sort of been Frozen Hell. Saturday I pulled out of our driveway and slid sideways into our neighbors’ front yard.
It’s a good way to meet new neighbors, I think. We literally had to break the ice.
I had been trying to get out to go work, and shop for food for an elimination diet we’d been doing.
Forget it, I decided by dinner.
A winter like this is not the time to try to cut out two food groups. Maybe we’ll try again in the spring when we can binge on asparagus.
By Sunday morning, with the thermometer reading 36 and with the possibility of cheese in sight, things seemed a lot better. I stepped outside to see our chickens:
“Gals, it’s going to end soon,” I told them.
(It’s their first winter. They have to be wondering who broke their yard.)
And as I projected all over my chickens, I felt myself breathing again. The air was cold, but it felt good and pure. My shoulders left their temporary residence inside my ear holes.
And I hatched a plan.
It had started on Pinterest, as so many wonderful/terrible things do. It began with birthday planning.
(Often my sanity-saver during these cold months … if you hate winter, I suggest having babies then.)
Why save all the fun for birthdays, I thought! The way this weather has been, their birthdays could be icy, rainy, snowy or something else that feels like Mother Nature is spitting at us.
We should celebrate now. As soon as possible.
The kids immediately agreed that a snow picnic was in order.
My daughter suggested we make Snowflake Cookies, and neither of us sure exactly what that meant, we settled on sugar cookies dusted with confectioner’s sugar.
We made cocoa. We wore layers. We hit the road.
We kept going when we hit icy patches. We were undeterred.
And what we found, was one hour of exactly what we needed. Or maybe exactly what I needed, but sometimes, exactly what Mom needs benefits everyone. It filters down through the husband, kids, dogs, cats, chickens and fish. It becomes the air, the very atmosphere.
Yesterday was a better day. Today was a little easier too.
The key to enjoying winter is to embrace it, people say.
But that can be hard to do when it keeps trying to kill you.
So maybe the key to winter is the same as the key to all the other things: finding moments, and making the most of them — on a couch with a book or yarn; near a creek with cookies and cocoa; where you are now, if you can just remember to breathe.
The sun always comes out again.