Old Man Winter, He Calls


Today it's almost 35 degrees outside and I feel like dancing a jig.  After a week of under 20, and at times under 0, 35 might as well be springtime.  I've always been the kind of person who needs a sweater anytime the sun ain't blazing down, so my relatively undramatic acceptance of this new normal is surprising everyone.

It might all be thanks to the gazillion dollar winter coat I'm living in.  Or the fleece lined leggings that I wear erry day... then sleep in at night... then wear again the next day.  (Sometimes I take them off to change undies.)  Or the wool socks that I double up on.

In case you can't tell, I have discovered the secret to thriving in winter in places that actually have a winter and that secret is the right equipment.  Yes there are those Iowans that are still wearing shorts, but I mostly just ignore them.

There's been snow on the ground here for weeks, cement groaning under the weight of it, and sometimes it's inconvenient, it's true.  But it's a whole lot prettier than brown grass and this Texan won't let herself forget it.

There is a quiet that comes with the snow and, thank God, lingers long after it stops falling and starts sticking.  Our to-do lists, our productivity, our expectations of ourselves and each other, they all seem to get stuck in the ice winding through the sidewalk cracks.  The world turns just a little slower in an Iowan January, and I'm holing up under a crocheted blanket to settle in to the new rhythm on the axis.

A dear friend confided early this week that her lifelong battle with an eating disorder is now requiring drastic measures for treatment.  She is weary, so very tired from the fight.  She grasps at the allusion of hope, struggling to believe that it's not a mirage in the desert.  I think to myself how I can't imagine having to suffer so much for so long.  I sip tea and I sit by the frosted window and I look at her name scrawled on the fridge, and I watch the rabbits hop through the snow.  All that snow.

Another dear friend called yesterday, marriage on the rocks on top of everything else.  Sometimes it hurts and sometimes it's numb, but it's never what she always thought it would be.  I listen to her cry and she swears that's something, but it sure feels like nothing.  The snow falls and my husband shovels the sidewalk and I cover the garlic buds in the window box.  I think about Narnia.  Always winter, never Christmas.

I'm at a coffee shop and my husband just left, waiting to catch the bus on the ice because I was too selfish to interrupt my free morning.  He's down today.  Sometimes it happens, when the atmosphere gets too full.  But Moses is at a friend's house and I don't want to talk.  I just want to write and be silent and eat a bagel for cryin' out loud.  And I let him walk away, the weight of my absence layered on top of those drooping shoulders I love.

If the snow could just keep coming down.  If it would only barricade us in, with cans of soup and all the blankets and nothing but time.  If only the roads would ice over across the country and we had to sit knee to knee in front of fireplaces popping, and say it all.  Speak everything we need to exhale, finally listen when the ones we love move their mouths.  If only we'd watch the flakes fall huge out the window and we'd keep our damn mouths shut for each other.

This is the gift winter offers us, and I'm starting to understand.

Someday, the light will shine like a sun through my skin & they will say, 'what have you done with your life?' & though there are many moments I think I'll remember, in the end, I will be proud to say, I was one of us.

(Brian Andreas, Storypeople)