Wednesday, December 9, 2009


One of the things I enjoy most about living in Illinois is the change of seasons. Four distinct intervals repeating reliably to create a sense of stability, natural rhythm, and satisfying sway through each three-month cycle.

When I was younger, I remember loving the snow. I reveled in my snow pants, relished each day off from school. I built ice forts and made snowmen... stamped the yard with snow angel patterns and happily ran inside after what felt like hours of play to shed my wet and frigid outerwear. Skin bright pink. Eyes watering. Glasses fogging like crazy.

Hot chocolate. Fires in the fireplace. Warm blankets and the quiet, peaceful hush of a late night snowfall, blanketing the world with a glittering gown. I remember icicled trees lining the roads like glass sculptures and the bright, beautiful clarity of a winter sky way out in the country... stars strewn across the midnight blue like glass beads. The moon so bright the ground was painted with shadows.

Now that I am older, my relationship with winter has changed. Somewhere in my adulthood, the appreciation for nature, love of the season, and joy of play was replaced with grumpy resentment, wind-induced headaches, and hunched-up, frustrated seething amidst shovel/brushing/scraping.

One of the reasons my husband and I were so eager to leave Chicago four years ago was because of the winters. This also was one of the reasons we were so reluctant to return. And yet we came... warily waiting for the first snowfall, the first freezing day, the first taste of icy, blustery cold. Could we do it again?

And so, here we are. Dipping down to zero tonight, wind chills in the negatives, and the world around us covered in white - with chunks of grey and brown. Sludgy, wet, and cold. Colder than I remembered.

But for some reason, I am really enjoying it so far. The winter weather so familiar from my childhood has set off waves of nostalgia carrying forth memories long outdone by my negative mindset and deadlocked clench against the cold.

Lately I am filled with gratitude, warmth, and happiness when hit by these seasonally induced recollections. It has reframed my perspective and allowed a new relationship to form.

I still sometimes notice I am tightened up and gritting my teeth when walking against the wind. My shoulders reach for my ears and my hands clasp tight across my stomach as if I could prevent all my body heat from leaving if I just squeeze hard enough.

But I am also more thankful for the season. The clear demarcation of passing time, the earth's rotation, and my connection to the cycle of life all around. And, even more importantly perhaps, I remember all things pass... remind myself it will change soon enough. My appreciation grows. My frustration ebbs. And I am left to hold hands with winter - creating a new relationship with a beginner's mind.

May you take comfort in the season that surrounds you. May you see with fresh eyes and appreciate with a fresh heart each new moment.

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