December through February in Michigan we experience something described by local meteorologists as the perma-cloud. As far as I can tell, this simply means days –sometimes weeks – with no sunshine. Period. It must be hard to imagine if you reside in Arizona, or California, or even New Jersey. Here in the mitten we have become so accustomed to the grayness of these months that when the clouds do occasionally part, it is like hearing the voices of an angels’ chorus. We stop what we are doing, we pause mid-sentence, we look up from our books or smile from our all-wheel-drive cars and trucks.
We Michiganders learn to make our own light during our winters, always seeking a new pastime, a recommended Netflix series, or even a new flavor of Cheez-its.
A dear friend moved into my neighborhood early last winter. And for the first time in our lives, we are within walking distance of each other, within the “what-cha doin?” stop, and within the cuppa-sugar-borrowing range. As last winter’s darkness approached, we decided we could weather the predictable gloom together, determined we wouldn’t feel soulless by March.
And so it began: our winter of Redford.
I have been a Robert Redford fan since I was thirteen and sat in the darkened theatre, mesmerized by his boyish charm in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. My piano teacher tempted me with the sheet music to “Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head,” and before the next lesson I had it memorized. I had a full-length black-and-white poster of Robert that traveled with me to my dorm room at Michigan State University. I guess I’ve always been a fan.
So where to begin?
We opened our first December with Out of Africa. Imagine the lushness of Africa juxtaposed against the moonlit, snow-covered yard illuminated in my friend’s bank of windows. It was delightful. We wanted to stay in that world for a few more hours with Kenya’s sun and that gorgeous Redford smile warming us during this winter darkness. Many more films followed, a welcomed escape each winter week.
As with time spent with all good friends, this weekly evening is much more than simply watching a screen. We share a meal, always something warm and soothing. We have tried new recipes—burgundy beef, chicken pies, chowders—yet the old standards still please us: chicken and rice casseroles, meatloaf, or our mother’s pot roasts. Nothing has disappointed us so far: the films, the food, or the fellowship.
Early last month, we resumed our evenings, something along the lines of the “Monday Night at the Movies” from our childhood.
Yes, we have broadened the scope of our films, but we have saved some of Bob’s films for the heart of winter. Only his youthful glow will do. And, much to our surprise, we looked forward to this annual cover of clouds, the storms the season brings, and another Winter of Redford.
It’s a Fine Life.
You can follow Kathy at her blog itsafinelife.com.