This might sound strange but, winter will soon be over. Winter is the
season that defines this area; ask someone about the weather in
Minnesota and most likely they will mention the cold and not our
brief, but lovely, summer. A January thaw brushed by us lightly this month and
next month may be more forward and linger a bit longer. We will be
very cold again before we are very warm; however the November relationship we began with winter will soon be over.
The recent cold snap was a pain. Our water froze, it took longer to
warm up the tractor and the cattle ate twice as much as usual.
Surprisingly, my bad memories of this time have already begun to
fade as they would in an imperfect relationship. When I think of the cold snap, I think of taking care of our wild birds by keeping a steady supply of peanut butter, suet and seed
available. I think of the little stray cat that struggled to our yard
and took up residence in the hollow under a tree. It felt so good to fatten her
with half and half cream and soft cat food. My memories are of
feeding the corn stove then watching the flames and feeling grateful
for the heat. I also slept deeper than ever after hours spent in the
cold and knee-cap deep snow. Nothing measures character like
challenge; nothing stiffens the spine like 30 below.
I think we are now entering the scary part of winter. It’s a season
which knows its days are numbered and is cornered for a fight. The
worst snow storms lie ahead and the cold will once again visit.
There’s a more emotional element to this time of year that also makes
me uneasy. Although neither the latest sunrise nor the earliest sunset
occurs on December 21st, Winter Solstice is a decent indicator of
longer days. There is more light to see what winter looks like
without her veil. This is the time of season when you get to see the
ancient, frozen colors in the sky and truly sense how cold the winter
makes life for the deer. In late January, you can feel the relationship ending, and it is the time of
year that offers neither darkness nor warmth in which to find comfort. The Pagans always got
happy at winter solstice but for me it’s the season that leaves too
much time for contemplation and too little time for unreasonable
Maybe winter is more like a woman than even my few metaphors suggest. The
singer, Billy Joel, once described a woman as “frequently kind, then
suddenly cruel.” This winter has been nothing short of the complex
infatuation that Joel describes and unapologetically so. “The most
she will do is throw shadows at you,“ describes the weeks since the solstice
very accurately, but I prefer it to the lackluster snow and uninspiring dry kisses of recent winters.
Winter will soon be over, which is great, because I really hate it.
Winter will soon be over, which is too bad, because I really love it-at least sometimes.