Wednesday, February 26, 2014

About Winter

About Winter

I like a cozy home.  Afghans, candlelight, baked apples and hot tea.  Feeling warm while everything outside is frosted.  Shawls, woolen socks, scarves and down comforters.  Roasting vegetables slowly in the oven.  A cup of coffee in a travel tumbler while driving to work.  Oatmeal.  A warm cat purring at my side.  A good book by the blazing fireplace. Cuddling on the sofa with my husband.  Pizza tastes better when it snows. This season has its romance and comforts.

But I grew up in North Dakota, hearing about blizzards, power outages and people dying within a few feet of their back doors during a whiteout.   Hypothermia, slide-offs, frostbite and  dead batteries.  Then, cabin fever.  The flu.  These are the hazards of winter, and I was raised not to take risks when the temperature dips below zero.  The odds are in Winter's favor, not yours.

We put our mittens in the oven before playing outside.  Bread bags in our snow boots.   Mom tied our scarves around our heads so they kept our hoods up over our hats, and our noses covered.  All for a little fresh air for us.  And a little peace in the house for Mom.  Kids get spun up without exercise.  After we came in and stripped all the winter gear off to our normal selves, there was hot chocolate and maybe freshly baked cookies.  We never complained.

But that was when someone else got chains on the tires, paid the heating bills and shoveled the snow.  Stocked the extra candles and knitted the mittens, hats and scarves.  Let the drips of water from the faucet all night so the pipes didn't freeze.  Cleaned snow off windshields. Plugged in the car battery to keep them warm all night since we didn't have a garage to protect our car from the elements.  And worry about carbon monoxide.  And carried me to the door of the school when I was afraid of falling on the ice.

So, I learned to endure the cold from my stoic non-complaining and hard working parents.  When we moved to eastern Washington state, I loved winter.  It could be bad, but never as bad as North Dakota. I didn't need five layers of clothing, just two or three.  There was nothing to whine about--which my parents never listened to, anyway.

But no one appreciated Spring more than we did.  And as it turns out, most of my family lives in California nowadays.  I'm the crazy one in Michigan.  I think I'm going to figure out how to cross country ski.