The landscape is grey and brown. The sky is heavy with stone clouds. Bare branches are wet with fog and rain. My poor garden, vibrant in summer, is sharp with plant skeletons, crinkly with copper oak leaves, and lifeless.
Winter gets harder to bear every year. The holidays are over, and I’m ready for winter to be, too. The clothes are bulky and there are so many of them. Thick socks, long pants, undershirts, overshirts, sweaters, jackets, coats, clunky shoes that cover your whole foot: toes, bridge, and ankle. In summer an entire outfit — a sundress and flip-flops — takes up as much space in a suitcase as a single winter shoe.
Today when I was driving home in the spitting rain, tires spewing wet road grime, and I was depressed about winter, the sun came out for a minute and I saw a rainbow. Is it possible to see a rainbow and not say, “Ooh! a rainbow!”, even if nobody else is around? They’re magical, and rare, and cartoonish in their universal message of hope and joy.
So I figured, FINE, I’ll think about some things I’m grateful for in winter.
Grapefruit season. Bright, tart, and glistening pink when you slice into them, grapefruits are full of Florida sunshine in the dark days of winter. Their astringency brightens whatever space they’re cut open in and makes me feel clean when I eat their juicy segments.
Red cardinals. The bleak winter landscape fills me with gloom right up until the moment a male cardinal enters it. Brighter than apples, when these little birds perch on a twig or a wooden fence, they become the focal point of the entire scene. Against the snowy white or dull brown backdrop of winter, their red feathers pop, and I cannot look away.
Wood fires in the fireplace. When we lived without winter, in our years in Florida, I longed for cold and snow and raw and damp so that we could have a fireplace, and fires in it. I don’t know if there is anything on earth cozier to me than the crackle of wood burning in a fireplace in the warm shelter of home when it’s cold outside. The smell of woodsmoke, the audible hisses and pops, the heat of the flames. Us and the cats piled up next to the hearth to read or play games or just lay with eyes closed, heads on pillows, as the flames dance and the fire warms us all.