I am from the middle of Ohio, in the middle of the Snow Belt, from the mid west. I understand the laments and fading “sunny” demeanor of those who do not favor the ‘grayscale’ tone our skies take on for nearly half a year. We often endure, (what my daughter finds humor in), what I call “snain”. It is a nasty mixture of precipitation teetering between snow and rain; like sleet but less icy.
I guess I too find the melancholy mood that I sink into, not necessarily “SAD” (Seasonal Affect Disorder), but that an end is approaching. Finality. Cold. Slumber. Death? As I reflected on writing today I guess that the perspective I choose in approaching this perennial and cyclical event we call “winter” is up to me to either find the boon or burden in. As long as my roots bind me to central Ohio, the winter here is as predictable as the orange barrels that blossom along our highways come springtime.
What I see upon examining the onset of winter is a feeling I got at the end of a summer evening when I played outside with my friends as a youth. All good things will and do come to an end. The activities that occur in one day must cease, then there is a regroup, recharge, and renew that must occur for us to venture out yet again after a good night’s repose.
We would be called in to our homes, often fed, bathed, and surrounded by our families for the evening’s fellowship and activities, punctuated by recounts of the day’s events, to later lie in the comfort of our blanketed cocoon, to rise again for what awaits us upon the new day.
I see winter in this way - whereas with the cycle of the daily sun, the “seasonal sun” too must set. As the daylight does fade and temperature drop during summer days, so it does in winter just to a greater extreme in the drop and duration. It is as if “mother” has called us all in to calm down, surround ourselves with family, and refresh and renew for a new recharged perspective. This separation from the comfort of flip flops and misty pool sides will then embrace “snuggies”, warm fires, and the body heat of those we love as we lounge by a fire like a seasonal “palate cleanser”. We can bond as a family to momentarily distract from the temptation to frolic separately by a warmer season’s lure.
It is also the months with the bite of frozen air, the bulk of winter’s layers, and the inflated shapes of people with faces cast downward to avoid the bluster and bluff - that instills in us the appreciation for the upcoming gifts of color, warmth, life and beauty we will once again be rewarded with in spring’s transition.
Let us not forget too that it is hard to have a “grassball” fight and slide down a hill on a plastic disc in mid July. Winter also hosts some of our most endeared and celebrated holidays where we are reminded of giving thanks, spiritual celebration, and a call to remember our fellow man. Add to that too the awakening of a new year full of new hope and renewed will power to often tackle a forgotten goal or new one realized. February lets us celebrate Valentine’s Day - remembering those we love with simple gestures adorned with glitter and accompanied by chocolate delights. March brings in the thrill of seeing the first Robin, the first stalk of green breeching the earth to seek the sun as we cast our attention back to the brown skeletal trees awaiting their blooming foliage.
As I am “called home” for winter season, I find I act as I often used to when I pouted with a saddened “awwww”, knowing that the fun had to end. Balance is the ultimate lesson in all this. It is the pendulum’s sway of the seasons that show us the gifts they all have to offer, and the anticipation of the next season’s blessings is like a Christmas gift we hold and rattle before opening.
With my “awwww’s” spent and returning inside to congregate with those I cherish the most for a few months, I see that it is winter’s drop in temperatures and related activities that place me at the side of my loved ones to be reminded of who and what is important to me.
Yet, as do the insects rising from cocoons and animals from hibernation, we will emerge energized from our domiciles to benefit from a seasonal slumber. Once again we will be reminded that it is the retuning to the nest we do in winter that allows to us soar in the summer sun.