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402 days. 402 (plus or minus… mostly minus) posts.

Tag: winter

Day 114: Time is A Stinker

Time is both our great protector and our worst nemesis. It heals and moves us when nothing else will do.

Over a month ago, I naively blogged about how spring was nearly upon us in the Midwest. The four weeks between then and now have flown by and somehow gone excruciatingly slow.

I live where I do because I love the people, the arts and the drama of the seasons. Summer is easygoing and muggy, fall is crisp and colorful, winter is long and horrendous, and spring smells like pure happiness.

But our collective patience is wearing thin and the ever-nice locals are getting noticeably edgy. Snowstorms are usually followed by amiable shrugs, reaches for shovels and boots, and drawls of, “Ya know, it sure looks pretty.” This morning’s snowstorm was barely acknowledged, aside from a slightly crazed look behind my favorite barista’s eyes and a half-baked warning to take it easy on the roads.

And I get it. I feel it, too. I ran an errand after work today and when I got back to my car, it looked like this:

dirty car

I laughed and took a picture, because it seemed so sad and dirty. Two minutes later, I tried laughing again but I cried instead. My dirty door was iced shut, and I somehow managed to clean the entire side of it with my body as I flailed to the ground trying to get in.

So, my dear time. I honor and love you. I will continue to be patient with you as I take a hot bath and ice my elbows. But just know that we’re all counting on you to do your bidding. Heal the season and please give us a new one soon.

Day 83: It Was a White Christmas

Here in the Midwest, we’re in a period I affectionately like to call “the worst time of the year.” The novelty of our dramatic winter has worn off, but we’re nowhere near the end of it. Our cars are covered in brown grit, our skin is visibly aching for vitamin D and all our good boots are covered in salt stains.

But, there are glimpses and tiny promises of spring emerging. If you’re a Midwesterner like me (and threaten to move to the coast every February), here are some happy thoughts to tide you over for the next 6+ weeks.

  • It’s still light out at 5 p.m. It’s the kind of bright evening light we haven’t seen since October. And it’s only getting lighter from here.
  • If it’s just a little bit breezy outside and you stand shivering on the street corner for long enough, you can catch a momentary hint of spring wafting past your nose. It’s worth the wait.
  • Sweaters are on serious sale right now. If you buy one (or two!), you’ll get at least a month of good mileage out of it before packing it up in your winter Rubbermaid.
  • All of that piled up snow will become welcome moisture for the trees and plants in a few short weeks.
  • The birds are starting to stir in the mornings. It’s possible that the birds have been stirring in the mornings all year long, but they’ll get pleasantly louder soon.
  • In six months, you will experience a moment of longing for the cozy blanket of winter. We’re swiftly approaching less cozy times, so you might as well snuggle up now.

Leaning tower of snow person

Day 28: Still Sun

Yesterday was many things. The winter solstice. The end of a long and sad week. The beginning of a cheery and spirited season.

Solstice. Sol—sun. Sistere—stand. The sun stands still.

During the winter solstice, the sun gives us our distance and stands still on the other side of the world. It barely rises, blinks and then sinks. Somewhere around December 21, the sun reaches its southern-most distance from the celestial equator and is closest to its southern-most Earthlings. In the north, we feel the darkness.

Then, slowly, the sun begins to ascend again and we prepare to start fresh and greet the light.

If we aren’t paying attention, I think we experience this shift as holiday cheer. In reality, we are incredibly connected to the movement of our universe. However tiny they are, our cells respond to light and dark, ebb and flow. We carry the history of creation in our bodies. As Carl Sagan once put it, “We are made of starstuff.”

The danger of attributing our feelings of mirth and togetherness solely to the holidays is that they tend to disappear once the new year has begun. As the January commercials for fitness centers describe it, we experience a little post-holiday letdown. But—what if we keep noticing the light instead of focusing on the holiday bustle? What if we take a deep breath every morning and thank the sun for coming back? What if we smile every evening and greet the darkness like a quiet, warm friend?

If we get too wound up in stuff and events and obligations, we miss the experience of being alive amidst a living universe. The solstice is the perfect opportunity to reconnect.

Sometimes, a little distance from the light can be very illuminating. (Hey-oh!)

BenchThis photograph of the Oregon coast was taken by my lovely mother right around the 2010 winter solstice.