Surprised by Winter

Posted by Somebody's Mother on 7:33 a.m.

They said that it was snowing in excited tones on the news

I wonder why they always sound so surprised ‘cause every year it snows

Anybody ever hear of Sandy Denny?  She sang for a while with a popular British folk-rock band called Fairport Convention, had a solo career, and met an untimely death from a brain haemorrhage caused by a fall down a flight of stairs.  I’m glad I’m not a rock star.

The first snow always makes that lyric play in my head and I was reminded of it by something that my husband said.  He was at Clark’s and one of the salespeople remarked that the store had sold 120 units of mittens and gloves even though they hadn’t had a lot of people come in.  I suppose the freezing rain may have had something to do with that.  I took a slide on to my backside while walking the dogs last Saturday and my husband sent me back to the house to take a long hot shower and put some ice on my back.  Strange how middle age can make a gentle fall that might be nothing for a kid a potential catastrophe.

The run on mittens and gloves is probably a reaction to snow, freezing rain, and everybody hastily putting up their Christmas lights while the weather was relatively mild a couple of weeks ago.  People are finally realizing that winter is here and it always surprises us, maybe because our autumns seem to be getting gentler.  Sure, we had a freak snow at Halloween, but everybody knows that the two coldest days in the fall are Halloween and Remembrance Day, both days where you have to be outside for a long time whether it’s walking your little one around or standing at the Cenotaph.  I can’t remember anyone ever complaining that either of those days was unseasonably hot. Yet this year, October and November have been fairly warm.

When I took that slide on the ice that was hidden by a thin layer of snow, I could vaguely smell January coming.  Everybody always complains about November and rightly so.  November is grey, bleak, with a damp cold that is downright unfriendly, but November has anticipation.  We can’t help but look forward to Christmas, so as the days get ridiculously short, we’re putting up lights and glitzy decorations that take the sting out of the cold, grey weather.  When New Year’s has come and gone, there’s nothing to look forward to but a dark January, which I like to call the long, dark night of the soul.  Once the holidays are over, that seasonal adjustment disorder hits me like a ton of bricks and I am SADD in all capital letters.

Of course, skiers have a completely different take on January; they revel in it.  They watch weather reports with baited breath.  They bounce up and down with glee at the first snow flake, and comes a blizzard, they are almost unendurably ecstatic.  You may want to kill them but if you are a confirmed hater of winter, you have to envy that love of winter snow.  This is their season and I try to take comfort in the joy of others.

Of course, my other solution has been to take up cross country skiing which, believe-you-me, is a lot of work.  Like an idiot, I bundle up and then when I’m sweating like the proverbial pig, I’m peeling off the hat, the scarves and tempting pneumonia with reckless abandon.  There are mornings in the woods when the sun shines on the snow in the trees and it’s magical – so much so, that I can almost enjoy winter…and that’s the trick.  Get out in it and enjoy it.

Equipped with my brand new woollen mittens that my husband picked up at Clarks with the cat food and the dog food, I will try to approach winter and snow with the joy of my dog, Molly…but I refuse to roll in the snow unless I’m sent flying by a hidden sheet of ice.

            Ellen Goldfinch may be reached at radiomother@yahoo.ca



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