Waiting for winter

Vicksburg’s Main Street several winters ago. Photo by Leeanne Seaver.

By Kathy Oswalt-Forsythe

Oh, the arrival of winter weather: the steel-blue sky, the warmth of our home, the slowing of our daily pace. I love extra blankets and hot meals, snow on the trees, and the crunch of a snowpack under my boots or tires.

So far it hasn’t felt much like winter. We had a record number of 50-degree days in December. Golfers played a few rounds at local courses. The birds boycotted our feeders, and we even had extra time to winterize the garden – a task I thought we wouldn’t be able to complete this year.

I know this warm-weather-pattern can change – and change quickly. Winds over Lake Michigan often pick up, gathering moisture on the way, and then we are in a storm’s path. Sometimes the meteorologists predict lots of snow and nothing materializes; sometimes the meteorologists miss an approaching event and we are caught off guard. It’s our annual winter-weather-roulette-wheel, and it keeps us engaged and excited through the darkness and cold of the season.

It’s been the same throughout the generations. When we were children, there was simply nothing like the joy of a day free from school and the snow globe waiting for us once the winds ceased. We dug tunnels in the drifts, we cleared snow and ice skated on the pond, we lived every moment of those wonderful days. Our children also celebrated this gift of time and togetherness. They sledded down our driveway, built chunky, teetering snowmen, and organized tea parties.

Preparation for and anticipation of a winter storm is part of the season’s fun.

My friend Annette and I conduct a different kind of winter-storm pre-planning. A few years ago, we each compiled a “blizzard box,” containing things to enjoy if and when we were snowbound: chocolates, coffee, tea, a candle, a new paperback, even a bottle of a favorite wine. We gave each other a few special treats to look forward to, packed our containers, and waited for the first storm.

When a blizzard eventually arrived, I enjoyed both the contents of the box and the image of my dear friend reading her new book and sipping her coffee, wrapped in an afghan on her couch.

In my perfect-Pollyanna fantasy, everyone I love is safely home, and my family and friends live within walking distance of one another. We could gather and share rich soups and breads. We could have euchre tournaments or play board games. We could watch our children and grandchildren play in the snow from our frosty windows. When the kids come in, they could sit together around the kitchen table, their cheeks rosy, sipping hot chocolate and planning their next adventure. I know – it’s totally a Norman Rockwell or Hallmark movie scene, and it’s not how we live or probably would even want to live 365 days of the year.

But our winters are still enjoyable and memorable. Throughout the years, we have played games and shared meals with our neighbors, we have enjoyed our children’s sweet faces at the table, we have done our best to pause and enjoy a blizzard’s gift of time.

I hope we can do it again soon!

It’s a Fine Life

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