My feet slid a bit as I tried to climb over the ice-covered snowdrift and into the dog park. I looked up and chatted with a man passing by. “This is getting treacherous!” I laughed. He pointed to the microspikes on his boots, indicating they were the way to go – I knew I should have worn mine too. They are the only sure way not to end up flat on your back on an icy footpath these days. Snow is melting and freezing. The winter has reached a certain tipping point – you can feel it in the air. I know it’s daring to say this, but though the polar vortex (#3) is upon us again, I can feel spring in my bones The tell-tale indicators are here.
1) Birds chirping. I heard them. They were out in the afternoon as I returned from a run yesterday. They felt it too!
2) Distinctive changes in snow consistency. It’s getting hoary. Ice is sublimating. The snow is crunchy and crystalized. This is good. This means it’s getting warmer – at least for a portion of the day.
3) The light is changing. We have reached a tipping point. The days are BRIGHT again – not the muted gray of midwinter.
People, it’s ending. I haven’t had a real winter in a couple of years. I haven’t even experienced most of this one since I spent a month in Colombia. But, even in the short time I have been here, this winter has been a rough one. There has been little break from frigidly cold temperatures. Thus, you’re either outside freezing you a$$ off, or you’re inside having hot, dry air pumped at you from the heating vents. It makes me crazy. I never realized how hard this was growing up here. It just was. It was reality of life in Wisconsin. We suffer. We do. It’s not fun to be cold. And it drives people batty by the end of the winter. And I love the cold, and boots and hats. I love scarves. I love winter activities. I have always been a lover of winter. But, I’m ready for warmth.
Everywhere I go, people chat with you about the cold. That, or their upcoming trip to somewhere warm. I haven’t heard this much about Sanibel since I was a child whose Grandma spent 6 weeks there every winter. People are done with winter here. Done.
Today at yoga my teacher lulled us all into relaxation describing being on a raft or a surfboard, floating in a warm sea, with warm breezes on us. I had a physically painful pang in my heart for life in Australia where this reality existed, and where I was more often than not, sitting out on a surfboard in the warm water, with warm breezes blowing on me – unconcerned with layers, and footwear, and hats. ”Why did we leave!?” I thought. I remember then, that I had professed to miss the winter. And I did.
And now here I am, missing Australia. You’d think I was impossible to satisfy with this rambling, but in reality I’m so content. I know the winter is long and dreary and cold, but I like being here and suffering with my people. I like the shocking cold of opening the door to let the dog out. I like having to gingerly walk across terrifyingly slippery ice on the sidewalks when I’m out running. It toughens us. It makes us jollier and heartier than those who don’t fight this yearly battle with the elements. It encourages us to share a warm beverage, a sidelong glance, or a frozen conversation with a stranger at a stoplight. We are all in this fight together. And we’re in the homestretch.
For me, this week has started out quietly, but beginning tomorrow things get hectic. Appointments, interviews, travel, and lots of selling myself to people. I am eager to get back to work. I love work. I love having a purpose and a schedule and coworkers. I love projects and goals. I always thought I’d love to work from home or go out on my own, but the reality is that I love the structure and community of a workplace and I miss it badly. I know there are still several things to wrap up and arrange in life – houses to fix up and sell, boxes to pack and then unpack. I know Rick and I are still well within the timeframe we have given ourselves to transition to a new life – with him back in school and me taking on a new role. We have some adjusting to do. As our schedule fills up for the year ahead with weddings and travel weekends, baby births, showers, and all kinds of activity, I am savoring these moments of quiet at home. Spring is almost here. The world is waking back up from a long winter. My life feels like it is beginning to accelerate and soon it will be busy again.
I am holding my tea with both hands, blowing off the steam, and savoring life’s slowness and solitude right now. The end of winter brings a certain energy, best absorbed through quiet mediation, dog snuggles in the morning, and warm blankets by the fire in the evening. I am doing all of these now, knowing this moment is short and soon the pace of life will pick up with the winds of spring.