O, the Cussedness of Winter

AS MENTIONED IN a recent post and in the eulogy my sister and I wrote, our mom put remarkable effort into hating everything about winter. Rosemary hated the cold and the dark. She hated snow and ice. She hated how the threat of bad weather might impact her ability to travel somewhere, so much so that she would start fretting a week in advance. If you said to her, “Yuck, it’s raining,” she would reply, with raised eyebrow, Yes, but you don’t have to shovel it.

Had Mom been engaged in leisure pursuits in Ft. Myers this week (where it is currently 65 degrees and cloudy, which means she’d have been padding around the condo in wool socks and a velour track suit), she would surely have been watching our weather and sending us emails and texts, calling us to ask if we were keeping warm, and did we plan on making soup or roasting a chicken.

Some years back, Mom had a new-agey past-life regression done, and while I don’t remember much about it, I do recall her saying something about how she had supposedly, in a previous life, been a young woman, trying to find her way through the dark woods. She said she had been cold to the bone, and was wearing a hooded cape. Or something like that. One wonders if the brain creates such constructs to help us process our intense emotions, but the possibility that she came by her hatred naturally seemed to satisfy her.

She offset this hatred somewhat with her love of the written word. She was a precise grammarian and a talented writer, and appreciated a clever turn of phrase. She was particularly proud of this poem, which she wrote and had copyrighted in 2009. It seems appropriate to share it here, given the Polar Vortex and subfreezing temperatures we’re having this week.

O, the Cussedness of Winter

Slipp’ry roads and frigid breezes,
heavy clothes and frequent sneezes,
cloudy days and longer nights
make me curse the frost that bites.

Three long months of winter’s blast
seem like six before they’re past.
Winter isn’t of my choosing
so I’ll have to turn to boozing

just to get me through the season
that deprives me of all reason
while I wait, with hope eternal,
for the equinox that’s vernal.

© 2009 Rosemary Beaver Fried

Those last two lines are just golden, aren’t they?? If you love it as much as I do, may I direct you to my sister’s Cafe Press shop, where you can have this gem printed on your choice of apparel, drinkware, a tote bag, and more. Makes a great gift for all those winter-hating people in your life.

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This one, I took through the back window of our house after a heavy, wet snow.

 

 

 

The Winter That Wouldn’t End

YOU KNOW HOW Autumn is so nice? The evenings get cool, the leaves turn colors, and there's a distinctive scent in the air. You get excited to build that first fire in the fireplace. As it drags into November, it starts to get cold outside, and Thanksgiving comes and goes, and then you direct your attention towards the Christmas season. (I'm talking to my fellow Mid-Atlantic / Northeast residents, not you lucky folks in SoCal and Florida with your year-round pedicures and convertibles and whatnot.) By that time, all the leaves have fallen off the trees and you feel like you're viewing the landscape through a sepia-toned filter. And then it's three blurry weeks of evergreen boughs and red bows and twinkly lights and gift wrap and egg nog and carols and parties and cookies and gingerbread houses, and you start to think:

MAN, IT WOULD SURE BE NICE IF IT WOULD SNOW! Some snow would really put me in the Christmas spirit!

And maybe it *does* snow. Or maybe it doesn't. But by the time Christmas rolls around, it's winter here, and sometimes, we get snow. But never quite enough snow, for some! We all watch the weather forecasts and wish and hope, and children wear their pajamas inside out and flush ice cubes (when did this start?) in hopes of invoking enough snow to cancel school. And then maybe, if you're lucky, we DO get enough snow to cancel school! Children rejoice and parents fight over whose turn it is to stay home rearrange work schedules to telecommute.

That's fun the first couple of times, right? There's something about snow that's magical. It's entrancing as it falls to the ground, covering up the midwinter grayness with a fresh, blinding blanket. It makes most of us pause, and in the rearranging of weekday schedules, we are forced to slow down a bit and take it all in. We light yet another in the fireplace and spike our hot cocoa with peppermint schnapps snuggle up beneath fleece blankets. We often get snow around Presidents' Day, and then it's pretty safe to put away the snow shovels and start thinking about Spring.

Today is St. Patrick's Day. March 17.  Three days before the first day of Spring. It is also the 9th day school has been canceled since before Christmas. Outside it's all

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and all

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Usually by now, we have daffodils  blooming! They were trying their best last week to give winter the proverbial middle finger:

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I really don't want to complain about the weather. That gets old. We do enjoy the four seasons around here. As much fun as summer is, I'm always ready for it to end.

But: I remember driving to PA in sleet and freezing rain the week before Thanksgiving, and I recall that same episode of wintery precipitation kept my sister's family from making the trip from New England to join us for Thanksgiving dinner. And that was damn near four months ago, and we've been dealing with unusual cold and more snow than normal ever since.

Dear Mother Nature: YOU WIN. I get it. I promise I will never wish for snow again.

(Until next December.)

 

Janu-Wary

THE HOLIDAYS ARE PAST. So, too, is the mirth and jocularity, the glee. There is no reason to wear anything velvety or shiny. The house is, again, bereft of festive decorations, most (but not all!) of which have been tucked back into the basement closet designated for seasonal decor.  The multicolored twinkle lights still outline the roof, but only because the subfreezing temperatures of the past week preclude any rational husband human from climbing a ladder to attempt to remove them.  The brilliant blanket of white snow that glazed the earth has disappeared, except for some dirty, seemingly-permanent glaciers left in inconvenient spots by zealous snow plow operators.

Calendar-01-January-q75-1945x1522 It is January. My least favorite month of the year.

The winter solstice occurred two weeks ago, and even though the length of each day is inching in a positive direction, it's still dark when I awake and when I return home in the evening.  All I want to do is drink warm tea, then crawl into my flannel-sheeted, down-comforted bed, the better to deny how drafty our windows are. My pants are snug, the result of months weeks of overindulgence. I hide the telltale overhang with a new, brown, bulky sweater one size too big, snatched from a department store's winter clearance rack – a sweater no one wanted to give as a gift or wear during holiday celebrations.

It is so, sooo cold outside!

For as long as I can remember, I have hated the month of January. First of all, it's the longest calendar month of winter, yet we are easily pushing through the second full month of winter-like weather here.  Second, there's the post-holiday letdown. After a full month of reuniting with family and friends, cooking and celebrating and eating and drinking and toasting and wrapping and giving and unwrapping and thanking and hugging, we return to the same old unceremonious, repetitive pre-holiday grind. After two weeks of easy commutes, owing to all the other workers who were burning use-it-or-lose-it vacation days, I once again fight for parking in the lot, a seat on the train, a step on the up-escalator.

I used to reserve my hatred for February. I considered it an insulting demi-month tucked in between the doldrums of January and the promise of Spring that comes with March (even though Spring weather really doesn't come until April). Oh sure, there's the Super Bowl, but other than that, February is really just an afterthought. But more and more lately? It's January I loathe.

Except for one thing: My youngest son's birthday.

Peezer turns five years old today! Five years ago, Curt and I had this conversation:

HIM: "So, what do you want to do today?"

ME: "Uh, I dunno… how about we go have a baby?"

HIM: "Okay!"

And we did.

This child is blessing beyond measure, a true joy who makes our family complete.  He gives me reason to plan celebrations beyond New Year's Day. He makes me happy to continue giving and fete-ing into the blustery, frigid days of January. He enables me to occasionally deny my true age.

I will need to be reminded of this when, this weekend, a dozen of his school pals descend on our home to partake in a medieval-themed birthday party, home-hosted because I simply couldn't bear the thought of dropping some mad, crazy coin on one of those canned juvenile birthday party factories. Sure, it'll be two hours of shrieking party and twelve three hours of scrubbing icing off of every visible orifice surface, but I like to think that it will stand out when compared with the year he went to I-don't-remember-how-many parties at that one padded, indoor, must-wear-your-socks place where the "party program" was led by perky teenage girls with pasted-on smiles who were going through the motions and thinking what, again?

After this weekend's birthday party, there is still more bloody flippin' January to contend with.

Yet, there is hope. By the time January finally, mercifully ends, there's the wee afterthought of February to trudge through.  Then we turn the calendar page to March and the promise of Springtime! Soon thereafter, the earth will reawaken and turn green again, and I will dig through that closet in the basement to pull out the Easter decorations, all pastels and blossoms and eggs and fuzzy critters and the romise of new life.

All of which means I have, what, three more months to figure out what I'm gonna do with the "secret" I'm concealing under my brown, clearance-rack sweater.