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Category: nature

Easter Passes Me Over

I have been off of work for the last week, as Baba’s day care has been closed for the Passover and Easter holidays.  Not being a Christian nor a Jew means that this mostly turns into another one of of those holidays where everyone seems to need to be somewhere, but I’m not entirely certain where that is.

Apparently people get together for Easter?  And they eat food?  Also, sort of the same thing for Passover?

I’m not so culturally tone-deaf as to not understand that there are some significantly different religious underpinnings there, but my understanding is pretty vague.  Jesus rose from the dead; a miracle is celebrated.  The Jews were spared from the plagues that God visited on the Egyptians and were liberated from slavery — another miracle.  These are fabulous and powerful stories, even if you don’t share the faith behind them.

And I must admit that I rather like the idea of miracles these days.

These shoes were made for walkin’…on mulch.

Our celebrations were more pagan.  Baba was sent a chocolate rabbit and some bunny ears, which led to a full day of listening to Baba declaring her newfound love of chocolate. I spent the afternoon digging in the dirt in the garden and trying out my new garden shoes. (Sloggers!  Recommend!)  The house that we bought was uninhabited for four years before we moved in and the yard is showing the neglect.  I don’t know a great deal about gardening, as you could spit across the entire yard of our last house without really even trying, but I’ve taken on fixing this yard as a personal vendetta project.  I’ve been learning a lot about eradicating crabgrass and annihilating dandelions, which is very much the dark side of gardening.

Still, there are worse ways to celebrate a fertility festival than by making room for new things to grow.  Tonight, I sleep the sleep of the just, even if we still haven’t figured out how to make our mysteriously 9-zone sprinkler system work.

It has been really relaxing to be away from my normal routine for so long.  My grandparents were visiting for the week, which made my time with Baba very pleasant.  She has very much become a 2 year old, with the attendant fits and dramas that limited language and a whole lot of will power entail, and the extra adult hands around were greatly appreciated.  Our entertainments were pretty mellow, with many trips to the park and the grocery store and the back yard.  The weather finally turned for the season and, for the first time since we bought the house,  I’ve actually been spending time just sitting in the back yard, enjoying our tiny private patch of outdoor space.  I bought Baba some chalk and we’ve been working on decorating all of the bricks in the patio, which is just the sort of life goal that I’ve needed for some time.

Perhaps the lessons of Easter and Passover aren’t for my family, but all of the time together with Baba and my grandparents has felt very sacred, all the same.

 

Nap refusal is never pretty.
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Mercury

1-1237928534hqIcThe weather has been the very definition of mercurial here in sunny New York.  On Sunday, someone made off with all of our Fahrenheits, and we had to pull out every item of our much neglected winter wardrobes to run our errands, shivering in the stiff wind that registered somewhere around -17.  By Monday, the temperature had risen thirty degrees, which made admiring the new snow that started to fall on Baba’s face much easier.  She blinked as it fell on her cheeks, eyes wide open and staring as her second Presidents’ Day turned into something magical.

On Tuesday, the transit system failed me, but the weather had risen another twenty degrees, making me wonder why I bothered with a jacket at all.  If you’re going to spend an hour outside, wondering about how your life would change if another train never arrived, you could do worse than to be doing it in a delightfully warm rain.

When the trains are screwy, I remind myself that if a late train is the worst thing that happens to me all day, then I have had a pretty good day.  It makes me feel better (and not even entirely because it makes me feel superior to my fellow commuters, who are often not displaying their best behavior).  But it is true — if being late to work is the worst thing that happens to me in a day — in brilliantly spring-like weather — I’ve had a pretty darned good day.  And the train did, eventually, arrive.


Beyond the weather, it is a season of change for us.  Perhaps it is having Baba to measure things by, but it has become much easier to track the passage of time.  We are planning on moving this year, which means finishing up all of those projects around the house that we’ve been meaning to get to for ages.

Perhaps the biggest change is that after a stay of seven years, my kid brother has moved out of our house.  It’s changed our family dynamic, but also given us a new project in changing his former bedroom into something fresh, something new.  There are certain perils to objects like drywall and carpets when you have a teenager living in your home and over the course of seven years, his bedroom took some significant damage.  So we have had to take stock about what to mend and what to replace.  In the end, we are fixing the walls and replacing everything else.  We threw out a bed, but kept a bookshelf. We have been patching, sanding, priming and painting, which is a very different type of work than what I usually spend my time doing.

In true Dickensian style, I hate painting.  I love painting.  It was the best of times and it was the worst of times.  Painting is awful.  Painting ceilings, as I had to do in my brother’s former room, is absolutely awful.  And yet, there is something so deeply satisfying in looking at a freshly painted wall and knowing that my hands made it nice again.  I go to bed exhausted and satisfied, knowing that my efforts of the day are permanent.  For a while, at least.

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Oregon Forests, A Return Home

My house backs up to the commercial side of town, so we generally keep the bathroom curtains drawn so as not to see the parking lot of the McDonald’s that is, thankfully, just far enough away that its greasy odors stay where they belong.  Seagulls often visit its parking lot, particularly in the early mornings, before the restaurant wakes up and cars remove their easy access to the Dumpster.  On Monday, as I pulled myself out of a deep sleep fog, the calming
sounds of their squacking and bickering actually registered, penetrating my sleepy brain enough for me to really listen to them.  We have been in the forests of Oregon for a week, where there are no seagulls, and the auditory break elevated their voices from a background noise into my consciousness.

Raven_2
Oregon has ravens. Isn’t that amazing?

When I return home from a truly great vacation, I always have a sense of disassociation when I walk back into my familiar setting.  Every time, it leaves me wondering why I put so much energy into a place, if a single week away from it can make it unrecognizable?  Is home a place, a feeling, a thing?  Is the stuff that lives there really relevant? Am I really attached to the little noises associated with my house, if the seagulls can seem unfamiliar and strange?

In any case, we are home again and reacclimating to the sights and smells of the end of summer in a beach town near one of the worlds’ busiest cities.  It’s a far cry from the silence of a ski resort in summer, where we had no neighbors.  It was remote enough that we kept planning on driving out at night to see the stars, which we thought would be gorgeously unpolluted, but the cloud cover conspired against us.  Next time.

This was Baba’s first trip on an airplane.  The thought of managing a
baby through the menagerie of the airline experience stressed me every time I even thought of planning for the trip.  The actuality was not nearly so bad.  This contrast between expectation and reality was such a relief that I arrived in Oregon in the best possible mood.  The main event of the trip was a wedding that was particularly meaningful for me, where I watched a dear childhood friend reach out for the happiness that she deserves, surrounded by her community.  Then we celebrated with a beautiful party, where I danced with Baba until my arms ached from her increasing weight.  A late night, satisfying conversations with strangers, good food, love and joy.  It was a beautiful weekend.

When the celebrations were over, we went into the woods, where my Beloved and Baba and I spent our first vacation together, under the watchful gaze of Mount Hood.  Oregon is in a drought, so we joined the natives in shaking our head at the atypically brown appearance of the mountain; snow meandered down its face in isolated patches, while every sign we passed warned us that the forest fire danger was extremely high.  In Maupin, a woman approached my Beloved and told him that he was risking a ticket from the fire warden if he smoked anywhere other than standing in the Deschutes River.

I considered pushing him in.  For his own sake, y’see.

Multnomah Falls
Multnomah Falls

And yet, despite the dryness of the season, the forests were lush and
alive with life.  We saw chipmunks and snakes, small ravens, hawks and — as we drove out to the desert country on the other side of the mountain — vultures.  Along the Columbia River, the giant waterway that separates Oregon and Washington, we visited waterfall after waterfall, stopping to gawk and take the same picture that millions of tourists have probably taken before us.

I badly needed the respite from New York.  As the summer has worn on, I find myself daydreaming more and more often about living on a farm in the woods, where snow blankets the miles of fields that separate you from your neighbors.  Upstairs, I have a desk with a giant window, where I can sit and dream and write while looking at a pastoral scene.  The house cleans itself.  The pets and children are well-behaved.  There’s time and peace and quiet and a solitude that is broken at my convenience.  It’s a beautiful dream, particularly in the contrast from the crowded subways and harsh interactions of strangers that are cramped for space.  Last week, alone with my family, in a quiet place, I pretended for a while that the dream was real.

 

 

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And then it was April

On Sunday, my daffodils bloomed.  I also emerged from under a sea of papers, readings and writing, as I turned in the very last requirements of my masters degree.  There was a certain hesitation and satisfaction in clicking submit.  When it was done, I wanted to feel something more intense than the relief that my deadlines were removed.  This is very likely the last formal schooling of my life, which seems significant somehow, but the emotions haven’t followed.

In the week since, I have wandered around my house, feeling a bit lost for things to do without the focus that school has given me over the last two years.  I have found a local writer’s group to keep the momentum going — the most valuable thing that academia gave me was a community of peers to throw my writing at.  Now that I have been kicked out of the doors of academia, I have no excuses left to hold me back from trying to turn my writing into something more serious.  On the contrary – I now have to justify all the money I spent taking an extra two years of writing and literature courses.  I’ve pulled out my portfolio and have been preparing a story or two for workshopping at the next meeting.  It’s time to get serious.20150427_075210

With an eleven week old daughter, who grows bigger and talks and smiles more every day, I still feel like motherhood is a suit that I’ve put on rather than something intrinsic to who I am.  I love my early mornings with the kiddo, who smiles at me like I’m the best thing that has ever happened when I wake her up.  I kiss her neck and listen to her coos and wonder that she belongs to us.  It seems unreal, as though any day someone will take this responsibility away.  Each morning is still a surprise, even as my hands and hips pick up the routine of diapering and lifting and soothing.  When my arms are free, they feel empty.  It’s just a matter of time until she’s so deep in my consciousness that she’ll come out in every story.  I find myself wanting to write for her, to tell her the stories I dreamed about when I was a child.

Last weekend, I brought the kiddo out in the garden in her car seat, as I dug my hands into the dirt and planted.  This year, my gardening is building on the hard work of the previous few years.  I planted all bee-friendly plants, hoping that the lone carpenter bee that joined us would bring along his friends as my garden grows.  Pulling and tugging at the wisteria, I trained its long tendrils around the fence and away from the roses.  I put down lavender and bee balm, lady’s mantle, a hydrangea bush. I introduced the kiddo to the Asian pear trees and the roses and had her touch the soft leaves of the butterfly bush with her impossibly small fingers. At the end of the day, I washed the dirt off of my new gardening gloves with the satisfaction that I was looking for all along.

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Transition

Yesterday morning, I woke to a few inches of snow covering the asphalt parking lot that the back of my house faces.  My neighborhood is a densely packed New York City suburb of 30,000 people, which could be far worse than what it is, but isn’t precisely what I would call a picturesque environment.  Snow significantly augments its beauty by hiding all the pavement and letting me pretend that I live somewhere far more pastoral and charming than I really do.

Although it is already the end of January, we’re still awaiting our first snowstorm of any significance.  Yesterday, the snow turned to sleet within a few hours and the plows were out in full force, so the beauty of the snowfall disappeared rapidly under their combined efforts.  We are due more snow tomorrow and on Tuesday, which does make it feel like winter has finally hit us here.  The seasonal transition is late this year, but it feels appropriately timed for the events of my life, as I wind down my professional life and move into my last few days before motherhood really begins.

deskviewOn Wednesday, I worked my last day in the office before my maternity leave.  I was filled with a remarkable amount of sorrow, despite the fact that I am still working from home until my labor begins.  I am coming back to work after my maternity leave, but over the last few weeks, I’ve been slowly cleaning out my office and bringing home the things that I’ll need to function as a telecommuter, so my office feels echoey and empty. I took a picture of the view from my desk and joked with my Beloved that I should hang it on the wall in front of my desk at home so that I can still feel like I’m part of the energy of my department. Perhaps I have spent far too much time around cats, but the idea of not following following the same routine that I’ve had for the last seven years has thrown me for a bit of a loop.  Logically, I know that it is a temporary change, but my hindbrain hasn’t quite gotten the memo.  I had tears in my eyes as I snuck out the door at the end of the day.

I am fortunate enough to like my coworkers very much. I’ve realized that I will miss seeing them while I’m on leave.  Working from home is not something that I enjoy nearly as much as I feel that I should — I do miss the variety of the small social interactions of our team as we navigate around each other on our way to the water fountain and the coffee machine and the fridge.  We often eat lunch together. I don’t go to work to socialize, but the social life is a big part of why I’ve worked there for so long.  Working from my desk in my basement in my pyjamas is comfortable, but it is lonelier than I would like.  All the same, I do see how fortunate I am that it’s an option for me.

At home, we are quite busy arranging for the last minute provisions and needs of our incoming infant.  I’ve been working hard to try and speed up the labor, as I’ve now been given a deadline for an induction.  Having heard some horror stories about induction, I am  very motivated to invite our daughter out into the world as soon as possible.  This morning, we went out for breakfast in the nearby beach town so that I could waddle down the boardwalk for a while.  I watched the ocean waves coming in, pounding on top of each other in the January winds, and thought about all the fluid surrounding our womb girl.  I’m sipping on raspberry leaf tea and taking my evening primrose oil tablets, as per my midwife’s advice.  I’m waiting and counting false contractions and waiting some more.  I’m writing and knitting at a furious pace, trying to finish up projects before I have a rather less understanding project demanding my attention.  I am spending a lot of time with my Beloved and dreaming of the future.  I can’t decide if I want her to hurry up or if I want these final days of preparation to linger.  All I do know is that change is coming–and it’s coming very soon.

 

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Woe to the Pears

Shinko Asian Pears“I have some sad news for you.”  Me Beloved’s face was mournful, but his mouth was twitching, which is never a good sign.

“Uh-oh.”

“About the pear tree.”

“No.”

“Yes.”

“No!”

My favorite fruit in all the world is the Asian pear. I presume that this is because I am a Taurus and value expensive things, because the Asian pear is the most expensive pear I could possibly desire.  Even in Asia, they’re considered delicacies that are often saved for guests, or shared between people, because they are expensive and difficult to cultivate. In Korea, there’s even an entire museum dedicated to them, which gives you an idea of its economic and cultural importance.

They are hard to find here.  When they do come in, they sell out quickly, despite their price tags of $2 to $3 per pear. And while I adore them, I also have a difficult time spending that type of money as often as I would like to indulge my habit.  My delicious, juicy habit.

So I thought I would be clever, since I had just moved into a house with a garden — I thought that I would make my own pears, to give myself the quantity that I would like. I did my research and purchased two Asian pear trees, because fruit trees need to cross-pollinate.   I wasn’t able to get two of the same type, due to limited supply, and one was advertised as less delicious than the other.  I put the less delicious tree on the median between the street and the sidewalk in front of our house as a sacrifice to neighborhood children.  I am not a fool.

The good pears, I put in our front garden, inside our fence.  Then I waited for them to grow.

And waited.

And waited.

Because they are fruit trees, in the third year, I expected to see a few pears.  I picked them, but I picked them too soon and they weren’t very good.  So I waited another turn of the year, leaving the pears on the trees until they were fat and plump.  Then, I came home on picking day…and discovered that they were all gone.

Every single pear.  Taken.

They say that there are five stages of grief.  The first is denial.  I went inside the house and asked my Beloved if he had picked the pears.  He hadn’t.  The second is anger.  What kind of person would have taken ALL of the pears?  What special kind of blanketyblank do you have to be? Are you freaking kidding me?

Then, bargaining. Do you think if we hadn’t planted one of the pear trees on the street…?  Depression follows.  There will be no pears.  I don’t deserve these pears if I couldn’t protect them.  Then, finally, acceptance.  We’ll grow more next year.

So we did.  And they disappeared, en masse, yesterday evening.  I wish that I could blame it on kids, but a neighbor saw who took them last year, so I have my suspicions.  My very adult suspicions.

I printed out a LOST PEAR poster and put it out on the telephone pole on our curb, with a picture of our missing pears.  After all, I’m back in denial.  Mourning will come later.  How could it have happened again?

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Summer Gardening

_DSC3019Today I found myself laying in the grass underneath my four-year-old Asian pear tree, watching puffy white clouds float by in a light blue sky.  I told myself that I was resting, taking a break from the heat and the weeding that I’d been occupying myself with for a few hours, but the truth was that I was reminiscing.

I haven’t spent much time in the garden this year, between all our house guests and trips out of town and keeping things going while my Beloved was in Ireland.  Life does that – it intervenes and takes control, no matter how good your intentions.  My postage stamp sized garden is largely self-sufficient — without my lifting a finger, we had decent crops of strawberries and blueberries and the beginnings of what I hope will be our biggest Asian pear crop yet.  Yet the neglect is obvious in the straw color of the grass and the forests of weeds that grew out between the bits of last year’s mulch that survived the winter. In the five hours that we spent working on it today, we pulled out four full-sized construction garbage bags of weed and dead grass. I need not have fretted over missing yoga this morning — my back, shoulders and legs got plenty of exercise in wrestling the garden back into shape.  Garden Kneeling Pose.

We put down six bags of cedar mulch, both to keep down the future weed life, but also because cedar mulch is colorful and pretty.  As I knelt along the edges of the lawn,  spreading out the mulch with my hands, carefully piling it around the roots of every plant, I felt about as connected to my garden as possibly could be.  I am marked and scarred from mulching the rose bushes, but they’re scars I’ll carry proudly over the next week, when I’m stuck in a climate-controlled skyscraper, as far from nature as I possibly could be.

When I was small, I used to spend hours and hours lying in the grass and watching the clouds.  Time is different when you’re a child — time is something that you kill while the adults are running around doing adult things. Today we just sat for twenty minutes, watching the water shoot out from the main sprinkler, waiting for the second sprinkler head to kick in on its timer. Just sitting, while I was covered in dirt, sweat and grass from a hard day’s play, was one of the happiest moments that I’ve had all summer.  As the water pooled on the driveway, I tried to clean my muddy flip-flops and feet in it, but only created thick mud streams down my legs. It was so carefree, so lovely, so freeing.

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Separation

montauk_seagullJune has been sneaking away from me, the days so filled with activity that I’ve barely noticed the blooming in my garden, the hotter days and the incredibly furry cat that stares at me intently, wondering when I’ll have a heart and take her to get her fur shaved off, for the love of God.

 

That would be scheduled for Wednesday.  I’m not a monster.

My Beloved has been in Ireland for a week and a half, with no return date in sight.  His mom is not doing well at all and I am very glad that he is with her.  At the same time, the space that’s carved out in our lives by his absence is obvious — all the things he does around the house, the noises he makes, the stories he brings with him — are all suddenly absent. There’s a certain silence where I am used to hearing noise.  I am listening, as I take out the trash and cook myself dinner, do the shopping and pass off the dry cleaning.  I drive around in his massive truck and find myself fitting into the spaces that he normally inhabits, which feels good, because it feels like a service that I can do for him when he is so far away and so worried about bigger things.  It always better to be doing.

Jason-Stomps-Love My house has had a steady stream of visitors to keep me company while he’s away.  These were planned visits, as we always get busy in the summer months, but I’ve appreciated the distractions.  Last weekend, I went with friends out to the end of the island, where we visited the Montauk lighthouse, ate like kings, and found a wonderful little bookstore–the rather directly named Montauk Bookshop.  They had a fabulous collection of books, with many lesser-known titles by classic authors, and a good selection of the backlists of more contemporary writers.  I picked up Mary Shelley’s Mathilda, Jane Austen’s Lady Susan and Tana French’s Faithful Place, which I have been meaning to read for years.  Stocked with more books than time, we went to find dinner at a place called Rick’s Crabby Cowboy Cafe because they served S’mores.  Wouldn’t you?

A good trip.  My next visitor comes from the U.K. in about three hours, so we’ve spent quite a bit of time this week pretending that we live in a much neater house than we really do. I’ve come to terms with reality and put away the paint supplies that have been sitting out since I started repainting the hallway back in May.  Plaster is a look, right?  In removing all of the stuff for the half-finished construction projects which aren’t likely to progress until the return of my Beloved, I’ve discovered that we have a lot more house than I thought we had.  Now that I can see my living room again, I’m really looking forward to the arrival of the couches that we purchased on Memorial Day.  The current couch has been slowly separating — the end seat is threatening to break off, like a polar ice cap, and has been in danger of floating away for some time.  That, too, is a look.  A look that will thankfully soon be gone.

Yesterday was the summer solstice.  In honor of the change of seasons, my yoga teacher asked us what the first thing was that came to our minds when we thought of summer.  Being in a room full of Long Islanders, nearly everyone named the beach.  Her answer, however, was time — the extra hours of sunlight in summer give us that extra hour in our day that we’re always looking for. This is the time of year that we play in the sun and spend time reconnecting with the people that matter. As I’ve slowly whiled away the weekend, napping, dreaming, writing, cleaning, I kept finding myself thinking about the gift of time that summer brings.  When my Beloved called yesterday for our evening chat, he mentioned that in Dublin, the sun didn’t go down until nearly 10 p.m.  Here, a little further south, the sun will set around 8:30 p.m.  When we were in the San Juan Islands at the beginning of the month, the evenings seemed to last forever, because we were far were as north as Ireland is. The light gave me energy and, above all, time.

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The Snowy Wilds

We have taken advantage of the long weekend and have shot up to rural Vermont with some friends for a weekend of skiing.  I say skiing with some hesitancy there, as I have not left the house since we arrived two days ago, but instead have been spending my time enjoying the glistening carpet of snow that covers everything with the nerve to be outside.  I have never seen snow like this before and the triangular piles on top of every fence post just look like tiny wild snowmen to me.  Outside, on a deck that we can’t access for the three feet of snow blocking the door, I can just see the tip of what looks like a vacuum cleaner that someone left outside.  There is so much snow that it spills from the second story porches onto the ground until you cannot tell where one floor ends and the next begins.

This seems like a place where winter means waiting; it is a long deep breath where you must force yourself to rest.  To do anything else, to fight through these insurmountable acres of snow, is unnatural.

vermonthorseThere is a horse on the property, which I can see from the bedroom window, and I have risen from my seat every few hours to see if she has dared to stamp out more of the snow from her paddock, but she does not seem to want to move far from the comfort of roof and trough.  I can empathize with this, as I have barely moved myself and have not been too sorry for the vertigo that pushes skiing out of my reach.  I have been happy enough to sit in the farmhouse and admire the filet crochet curtains, the snowshoes on the walls, the hanging quilts that make you reach out and draw a finger along the curled white lines of the quilting.  There are no fewer than four stuffed deer heads mounted low on the walls, which disturbed when we first arrived, but are now beginning to feel like old friends.  With everyone out of the house and over at the mountain, there is a silence here that is deep and restful.

I have been taking care of writing obligations with deadlines on them, which is work that does not fill me with much joy.  I have been pushing through so that I can get back to reading and editing and writing creatively, which has been difficult to find time for in the last month.  A frustrating state of affairs.  The deadlines have been met now, which means the next forty-eight hours are entirely mine to remind myself how to do the things that I love best to do.  With the peace of the last two days, my brain is recharged and I am ready to go.  I don’t think I will want to go home.

 

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Winter

Like a good part of the country, we experienced abnormally cold temperatures early this week.  The coldest we felt was about -17F with the wind chill, which doesn’t compare to a good part of the rest of the country, but is cold enough for your breath to get your scarf wet enough that it will freeze to your face.

Ask me how I know.

I struggle in the winter months.  I’ve been in New York long enough that I’ve learned to cope with temperatures of 20F as a normality, but anything below that literally terrifies me.  Each year, I dread January and February, which are the coldest months here, because I spend so much time just trying to survive. There’s very little energy left to do much of anything else.  I am very much a homebody, so you would think that the plummeting outdoors temperatures wouldn’t matter so much, but the house and my office are drafty and I spend two months a year shivering everywhere I go.  I walk two miles each day as part of my commute and figuring out how to survive that involves a lot of strategy and planning in my clothing selection.  That — and my actual fear of the cold — is distracting enough that it’s easy to allow myself to slip into apathy as life becomes a fight with the outdoors.

Me, Trying to Make it to the Train
Me — Trying to Make it to the Train

In yoga class on Saturday morning, my excellent teacher told a story about what we think we can and cannot do and invited us to push the envelope of our definitions of ‘can’t’.  Obviously, she was talking about the more challenging yoga poses; the focus of the class was an arm balance that I did not and have not ever attained.  Certainly, one of the best ways to move along in challenging poses in yoga is to ignore your brain’s laughter at the idea that you might be able to contort your body into that of an acrobat and to just keep on trying them until you can.

Yet I found myself thinking about the weather instead; about how this week’s temperatures had pushed my own definition of what I can and can’t deal with.  In my brain, I think, “oh yes, I can thrive when it’s 20F or warmer outside.  I’ve done that now often enough in the decade since I’ve moved here that I’ve nearly gotten used to it.  No problem.”  20F?  Can.  When we saw the weather reports for -17F, my brain immediately said, “Panic!  Can’t.”  As a result, I was exhausted on Tuesday and Wednesday, not because the weather was so terrible (well, it was really, really awful but never mind that) but because my brain got into this exhausting panic state and put me into fight-or-flight mode.  This is not a useful reaction to have about the weather.  The weather is non-negotiable.  It’s going to happen regardless of my feelings about it.  What I did have a choice about was how much I was going to let the weather affect my spirits. I admit that I lost badly.  I can’t.  I can’t.

My eyelashes did freeze with all the tears from the wind in my face.  That’s got to count for something.

It warmed up and by Friday and Saturday I found myself able to go outside in my favorite uniform of jeans, loafers-without-socks and a cardigan.   My entire being thrilled with the warmer weather.  I got out on my scooter and left the house no fewer than three separate times, which is pretty remarkable for me on a weekend. I danced through the house, throwing open windows and pulling down Christmas decorations.  I was filled with the energy that I find so difficult to find at this time of year and it was glorious.

But I had to wonder — would I have enjoyed the 50F day on Saturday if I hadn’t experienced the -17F day on Tuesday?  Maybe, but probably not.  We learn by contrast, by comparing our experiences with those of others, but mostly with our own experiences.  There was a time where I thought a 20F degree day would be too much to survive, but it’s become normal.  I can’t turned into I can.  And every year I get a little better at still being able to function when it’s freezing outside, but this is definitely still a pretty low time of year for me.  For those of you that thrive in cold temperatures — how do you do it?  How do you keep your energy up when the landscape is bleak and the air is painful and cold?  How do you still find the energy to create?  I want to try your secrets.  I want to turn I can’t into I can.

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