I am almost afraid to write about this, for fear of jinxing things, but we’ve been having a mild winter. And NO, Snow Gods, there is no need to interpret that as in invitation. It’s just that folks who have been following Middle Passages for a long time may recall I’m not a fan of the season, especially when parked in our family room where the temps, for some reason, hover ten degrees below the rest of the house.
Being of the frugal, New England Yankee sort, we keep our thermostat on a timer. It maintains the heat as low as tolerable during the day (tolerable being a relative term). In previous years, I have transitioned my writing desk at the back of the house to a winter residence in by the laptop in the warmer (again, think relative term here) front living room. In spite of this improvement, to survive over the last two winters, I climbed into a cold-weather writing costume before sitting down at the computer. Let’s just say a scarf, a knit cape, fleece boots and occasionally, a hat were involved.
This year though, I’m still camped out in my cubby in the back corner, and though I won’t call it warm, my daughter’s plaid flannel scarf suffices. I have no complaints. But it struck me recently, as much as I hate to admit it, there are parts of winter I'm missing. Other than a dusting of snow that melted by noontime yesterday, we’ve had none. We have yet to wake up to the cotton quiet of a muted dawn after an overnight storm. The cement meeting pond, on the town common across the street from the building where I now work part-time remains liquid, absent of toddlers pushing around chairs while learning to skate. The thwack of hockey pucks fails to echo down the street from our house, because the rim of ice around the edges of the pond there surrounds black water. The down jacket I inherited from my daughter two years ago hangs on the hook in the closet where it’s been since last March.
I can do without the singe of cold that ices the inside of my nose when the temps drop into the teens, but when the thermometer does register that low, there’s something alive about stepping into breath-gasping air to pick up the paper in the morning. When dressed right, a walk in those temperatures defies something powerful, and celebrates a determination to muscle through, no matter what.
Folks who move out west, or down south after living in New England often say they miss the seasons. When I hear that, I roll my eyes. “Try me,” I say and for the time being, I guess Mother Nature is calling my bluff. I'd be lying if I said it doesn't feel more than a bit off.
But then there's this; at least when unexpected visitors arrive, I don't have to run and hide.