Cold, clear, crisp, with a wind to match. Or, cool and sunny. Both with a blue sky above like a canopy of joy. Winter. Which one of the two do I like best? Since I have experienced both, I can say without a doubt - both.
Fields of snow, a gale-like wind, tall trees with heavy white-laden branches. Hands stuffed in the pockets of a down filled jacket, feet in fur-line boots, woolen hat pulled down to my eyes. I am determined to walk. Good stuff, they say. Don’t ask who ‘they” might be – they are there all the time. I agree exercise in the outdoors pumps up oxygen making the brain work. And, you do feel good after. We learned that in school. On cold mornings when all we wanted was huddle at our desks, one teacher, in particular, made us march and run. We hated it. But, now, I understand why she did it and thank her for her wisdom.
Mary Oliver says in her poem – White Eyes,
“In winter all the singing is in the tops of the trees…” where she imagines the life of a bird in winter, sleeping in his nest on the top of a pine tree.
I encourage you to read the complete poem – you will be drawn in immediately, as I was, into a world that surrounds us which we ignore. How many times have I missed the chirping of birds as I walk briskly in an effort to pack as many steps as I can? Many times, to be completely honest. Now, while walking, I hear the chirping of birds. They seem happy. I want to see where they are and look around the frozen landscape. Finding no flying creatures, I continue on my path. However, there are plenty of bushes; add good strong trees with long limbs, and it tells you there’s a whole world carrying on over there. Such a delight!
It took me a while to come to terms with winter. This cold northerly one, so different from the soft, cool winters of my growing years. Although we did have cold rain in January. That didn’t put a damper on things. Youth doesn’t care if the air is moist, the floor damp, room cold. They are wired differently. At some point, we have all been there.
I have first-hand knowledge of the power of the lowly charcoal brazier. What warmth and comfort it brought us during our growing years! The dining room had an electric heater. We loved the charcoal brazier and plotted and planned to have it indoors all night. But our parents would have none of that and the container was banished outside before lights out. Upon reflection, I have to agree that the brazier with its combination of heat and comfort is perhaps one of my fondest memories of childhood. And why I love winter.
I remember having to climb up snowbanks piled high in front of the bus stop. This made it equally challenging for the driver to open the door to let in passengers. Streets were never cleaned well in those days. Things have changed - salt trucks are usually out before the onset of a snow-storm.
Winter is a time of waiting as the earth renews herself to the tune of drowsy lyrics sung by her companions also doing the same. For us, it can be a time to learn patience, tend to our inner selves, enjoy a slower pace. Rejuvenate our spirit.
Take care. Keep smiling.
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