January is gone, February is here. Friends, family and colleagues are jetting south for their yearly pilgrimage to sunny climes for a week of warmth and sun, that wisp of hope that will keep them going during the winter months yet to come.
I have never travelled south during the winter. I've been told that if you go once you'll want to go every year. Maybe that's why I resist. I don't want to kickstart the habit.
Or maybe I don't really mind winter.
Let me be clear, I do not particularly like having to leave the house in freezing rain, a snowstorm or the descent of a polar vortex. In fact, I detest driving in crappy weather only marginally more than I detest scraping ice off of my car windows – the latter with a seething passion.
But it's part of the package that is winter and if I choose to live in Ottawa, it's what I've got, like it or not!
So why fight it?
"To see ice crystals hovering in perfectly blue air, to walk on a moonlit night through a field of freshly fallen snow, to mark the tracery of a snowflake, to slide or ski or skate or roll on ice and snow, to stand under a crow sending a dusting of snow down from a hemlock tree – there is glory there."~ Gary Schmidt & Susan M. Felch, Winter, A Spiritual Biography of the Season
The sight of freshly fallen snow clinging to the branches of our cedar hedge, the rhythmic sound of snowshoes breaking a trail through the underbrush and yes, even the glistening branches that follow the ice storm. Goodness, what beauty.
And don't even get me started on cocooning, wool blankets and fairy lights. Bliss for this introvert!
“A mind of winter, a mind for winter, not sensing the season as a loss of warmth and light, and with them hope of life and divinity, but ready to respond to it as a positive, and even purifying, presence of something – the beautiful and peaceful, yes, but also the mysterious, the strange, the sublime...”
~ Adam Gopnik, Winter: Five Windows on the Season, CBC Massey Lectures
I cannot imagine living without it.
I can cope with the cold and the crappy weather easily enough; a good set of snow tires, a supply of salt for the driveway and a good parka can do wonders. A few strategically placed f-bombs help too ("EFF it's cold!"), as does a healthy dose of surrender (seriously, there is NOTHING I can do about the weather).
I read, I listen to music, I create. I try new recipes, I spruce up the house, I watch Little House on the Prairie. I dream of camping, I work out, I get outside. And though I enjoy the fresh air, I also appreciate that these winter months are conducive to pause and restoration. I slow down, I turn inward, I embrace my homebody-ness completely.
So far so good.
It's still early in the season mind you and my view may change between now and the end of March, but in the meantime I sure feel a lot less miserable. Besides, this week I heard a Cardinal sing so spring can't be THAT far can it?
But there's no rush. Because it's only February and I still have three seasons of Little House on the Prairie to watch, two jigsaw puzzles to finish and a giant Costco-size tub of hot chocolate to go through. Who wants to deal with that in May?
I sure as heck don't.
So just for today I'll take February. I'll take the cold and I'll take the snow. I'll take the slower pace. If you're looking for me chances are you'll find me curled up on the couch bawling at a moment between Pa and Laura Ingalls, feeling grateful for central heating and indoor plumbing.
And if you listen carefully across the miles, you might even hear me exclaim "EFF it's cold!"
If escaping to sunny climes means I would deprive you of that, well I just won't do it.