Saturday, January 10, 2009

Deep in the Heart of Winter

How do you know when you are in deep winter? There are signs of it everywhere. The Burpee Seed catalog arrives. The Christmas decorations are put away for the season. The Christmas goodies are gone, but not the effects of them. You recognize the patterns of bird arrivals at the bird feeder--highest turnout and variety of species at noon sharp. You realize that in the summer time you can wear shorts and a tee shirt and feel overdressed for the heat, but it is a distant memory. The snow is drifting down from a flat, gray, oppressively low ceiling. There is a quietness about the house from being shut up and insulated by snow drifts snuggling up. Your hands and lips need constant moisturizing from the dry cold sucking humidity from your body. You don't do things in the far, cold reaches of the house, but gravitate and adjust activities as close to the fireplace as possible. If you're not careful you can count in days, not hours, the times you step outside for fresh air. You're not satisfied anymore with going out in a winter coat and gloves. Even boots are not enough. The fluffy red scarf gets stored in your coat sleeve when you're not wearing it, and you are gratefully for its draft-blocking quality. Going outside is an adventure--you feel vulnerable, and have a respectable feeling of reverence for those hardy pioneers. You feel like you are in an endurance contest. And how do you survive deep winter? Get out that Burpee catalog and start dreaming!

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