Even though fall is my favorite time of year, winter has to be second best. Alot of people talk about depression in winter, and needing sunshine to survive. I guess I'm made up of something different, more hard-scrabble. Whenever I say "hard-scrabble" it reminds me of the pioneers that packed their whole life up and headed west. They plodded forward, covered wagon swaying not so gently, into a life unknown. They also headed into some of the worst winters and blizzards. Imagine this: you're tucked securely into a log cabin, mud chinked into the cracks, and in some cases the shelter may just be a little soddy -- a little shelter made of sod. The winds start howling and you know a blizzard is starting to rev up. You carry more wood in from outside, and hunker down to weather the storm. In the Laura Ingalls books, she always conveyed such a picture of family togetherness, taking the storm in stride, playing checkers. I know, out on those prairies, winter is wicked. It was never taken lightly, and people prepared all year to be ready for winter. I recall moments in those books when Laura woke up to frost covering her quilt -- can you imagine that? Even with all these descriptions, and bone-chilling wake up calls they still had fun in winter. They had ice-skating parties, sleigh rides through town. They gathered in the schoolhouse, heated with a coal stove, and had singing get togethers. They hitched up their horses in mind-numbing weather, digits deep below zero, and went to the store to purchase sacks of coffee and sugar. I found it very enthralling reading.
Laura Ingalls aside, I sometimes tire of hearing people complain about winter. There is a purpose for it. It gives the earth time to rest, to gather strength for the coming spring. As I look out at the blanket of snow on my front lawn, I imagine the tiny blades of grass sleeping soundly --- nurturing themselves for when it's time to wake up. The tulip bulbs, encased in a frosty cocoon preparing for their bursting out. I think people sometimes feel dead in winter. But why? The flowers and trees aren't dead, they're just resting. We should see winter as a time of cleansing. The cold air fills our lungs, and pushes clean, cold air into them. The chill makes my skin tingle and feel alive! We can take a break from most outdoor activity and commune with out family. When I know a snowstorm is approaching, I run to the store in anticipation of being stuck at home for a few days. Excitement builds when the flakes start to fall, and my husband and kids get infected by this merriment. I've made winter not a time of the doldrums, but a time of relaxation and hibernation. When spring and summer come, I'll be ready to head outside into the dazzling greenery. For it wouldn't be so green and lush if it hadn't taken the time to rest. ;)