Wednesday, March 4, 2015

The Winter of My Discontent

Anyone who knows me knows I hate winter. Not all of it--I'm not ready to give it up completely, yet. I love the first snow, the muffled walks with the dog, spying small animal tracks in the dusting on the ground, the smoky smell of the neighbor's wood burning stove. What wears me out is the bitter, incessant wind, single-digit temperatures and extended views of nothing but white, gray and brown. I start to miss green.

This year, December really wasn't too bad. Cold, but manageable. Some snow, but nothing back-breaking. We decided to renovate our master bathroom and the contractor gutted it in early January. Around that time, I seem to recall commenting about how it looked like it would be a much better winter than I'd expected. Out loud. What was I thinking?

What followed were several long weekends at home with my family and a seemingly six-week-long February filled with single-digit temps, double-digit-below-zero wind chills and lots of cabin fever. You'd think the long weekends with the family would have saved my sanity, but you'd be wrong. They were brought on by snow storms that rolled in every three to four days, causing more school closures than I can remember since they started kindergarten. Their first Monday in school this year didn't happen until mid-February because they'd had snow day closings every Friday and Monday since 2015 began. They've burned through their allotment for the year along with three vacation days in April and May. We've shoveled so much snow that there's no place left to put any more. And there are still three weeks left of winter.

The storms also caused problems on the roadways and made travel tricky. Because my contractor comes up county from about 45 minutes away, we didn't see much of him those weeks either. We're now on week eight since we started, and the bathroom still isn't finished.

Rather than curse the friends who escaped to warmer climates for the mid-winter break, I instead let myself linger over their photos of clear pools, white sandy beaches and suntanned shoulders. I bought fresh flowers from the supermarket and put a cream colored tablecloth on the table. When a skunk sprayed somewhere beneath our deck, I burned lilac- and lily-scented candles in every room of the house because it was still five degrees out and I couldn't open the windows. I hoped in vain that they would hide the stench and also give the illusion of spring.

Every eave of our house is sporting icicles, some as big as my twelve-year-old. When they began to sprout inside the kitchen door and drip onto the tile floor, I laid down a beach towel to catch the water. "Think summer!" I told myself as I replaced the soaking wet one with a dry one the next day.

When the furnace started to sputter and sleet ticked on the window panes, I started to worry. If I keep the green, flowered drapes closed and turn up the heat, I can usually forget it's still, unendingly, relentlessly winter outside. But if the heat goes out, I can't take a hot shower and the indoor temp drops into the low fifties, I know winter has forced its way into my house, my life and my consciousness in a way that I can no longer escape.

There are only a few more weeks until spring. We are in the home stretch. Beginning this weekend, the days will be lighter longer and the sun will start to feel warm again. I think I'm going to make it through, and I have no intention of stating all the good things about this winter that I've actually been thankful for, because you don't have to hit me over the head with a brick more than once.

But I have a few choice words for the groundhog when I see him, and am still open to invitations from any of my friends in warmer climates. I'll even bake something before I come. At least it will make the house warmer before I go.

1 comment:

Kristen In London said...

Lovely post! Your experiences put in perspective how dull I've found our London winter: only one hard frost, I think, tons of rain. But we have flowers year-round and the Thames never freezes. Surely there's a happy medium between our two homes!