Cold Comfort

Ice barely skims puddles during this year’s freeze/thaw gymnastics.

Around here, some people love the winters.  Others despise, endure, ignore, or accept its cold and snow.  When I worked I was often happiest in winter because I did not think I was missing out on anything else.

Most residents claim they like the change of pace, the natural reset.  We get fabulous cycles of spring, summer and fall.  My own feelings are probably the result of growing up in a similar environment; perhaps we are always eventually happiest where we recall our childhood.

But sometimes, day after day can be wearing.  We have fortunately avoided heavy enduring snow cover this year, but by late February with no signs of breakout, winter has worn out its welcome.  Not even the tips of spring bulbs are showing, except for a few snowdrops.  Brambles have no baby leaf shoots.  Grass remains brown.  Bright sunny days are a kind of mockery.

Male geese display as much frantic pre-spring bravado as any human males at the local bar scene

Enervation and cabin fever are likely afflictions.  It is all very well to try to meditate or think deep thoughts, to catch up on reading or entertainment, to go out to eat or attend various events.  We are fortunate to live in a society that offers so much.  And yet …

Sometimes when it is 23 outside, and clouds promise chill wind or damp snow, it is awful hard at my age to jump out of bed.  I become prone to just sitting with an empty mind and no ambition whatsoever, content with memories and less.  Any activity a bit too much to begin.

However, when I do get a move on, when I ramble through silent muddy woodland trails or near-tundra meadows, I am profoundly grateful for the unusual quiet and solitude.  Everyone else seems to be somewhere else, my whole immediate environment is mine alone.  King of the world.  Empty spaces all around, as close to nature as it is ever possible for me to be.

In spite of occasional power takeoffs with frantically flapping webbed feet, swans emanate total calm.

Besides, the glide to spring is in full force.  Days are much longer, sunsets much later, daylight much sooner.  Most puddles melt when hit by the increasingly strong rays of the sun.  If I search hard enough there are plenty of signs of life stirring, from the frisky squirrels stealing from the birdfeeder to the swans beginning mating flights over the harbor.  Rumor has it that a local park already offers lessons in maple-sugaring. 

The best thing about the end of February is that these deepest of winter hours also hold the most hopeful promises of what is to come.  For one more year, I have survived the bleakest times, and any terrible weather day is simply a temporary setback. 

Truly nothing to complain about.  I’m warm, well fed, healthy and entertained.  By all measures, a genuine king of life.

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