We had our windows open Saturday. On New Years Day, in a part of the Northern Hemisphere where it should have been cold, if not freezing, it was warm enough to air the house out. I walked the floors in bare feet and short sleeves.
What I wanted to do was cup a warm mug of cocoa in my hands while I snuggled under a blanket next to a fire with my book.
The past few years, I’ve been done with winter. I didn’t want it anymore. I like April flowers and August butterflies, swimsuits and sunshine. I wanted eternal summer. But as September came to a close last year, and I prepared to brace myself for winter, I decided to surrender instead.
When October came, and the air smelled different, and we moved the wood pile and I cut back the annuals, and we pulled out the sweaters and slippers, and I watched the plants and animals prepare themselves for the lean times of winter, I stopped resisting. If we do it right, winter is a time of much-needed rest. The days are short and the nights long. The natural world slows. It’s a time to hole up, to appreciate and honor resources, to be cozy, to be quiet.
Nature works in cycles: night and day, birth and death, growth and decay. Seasons. These rhythms comfort me: everything is forever, and nothing is forever. I like both the constancy and the change — I can rely on the sun rising, on the crocuses pushing up in the spring, just as I can rely on the seasons changing to keep me from getting bored, and on contrast to keep me grateful. My appreciation for the warmth and vibrance of summer exists because of the cold sharpness of winter.
After a spring-like New Years Day, we went to bed Sunday night eager to wake to a world blanketed in white. The forecast called for 5 inches of snow.
At 3 o’clock in the morning, I woke to the sound of rain lashing the window. The wind howled, and I smiled as I snuggled deeper into our down comforter, knowing the mercury would fall.
When I woke at 5 to exercise, the street outside shone black, shiny, and wet. No snow. I listened in the silence of the sleeping house and heard the click of sleet against the window.
An hour later, when I emerged from the basement and looked into the darkness again, I still saw no sign of snowflakes. I made coffee and sat at the table to write. When I finally looked up, after the sun had risen, the soft morning light showed the back garden under 2 inches of fluffy white. Fast-falling snow filled the air, so thick it would cover me in a second if I walked out in it. It stuck to the trees and bushes and porch railings, transforming the world as it painted a magical winter scene before my eyes. I leaned back in my chair and watched it rush down.