I adore winter.
Those who live elsewhere think it never gets cold in Texas. It certainly doesn’t seem to get as cold as it did during my childhood, when we enjoyed at least one snow day each school year and our parents suffered multiple bouts of black ice. Now our snows are freaky…like the March week this spring when we had six inches one day and nine two days later, with a 60 degree day in between that cleared the yard completely.
The climate has definitely changed in my lifetime.
But winter still arrives acutely in these parts. As I always remind some shivering transplant, our only defenses against the frigid Canadian cold fronts are barbed wire fences.
Everyone has a story. My friends C & L “fondly” remember a west Texas high school football game where balloons were released during a balmy halftime show, floated gently northward on a light southern breeze, and blustered back during fourth quarter on a fierce north wind that dropped the temperature 40 degrees.
My special memory? The year before I married, our town endured ten days with high temperatures below ten degrees. The Man had renovated a turn-of-the-century farmhouse. Our Christmas tree stood against the north wall, and the water froze in the stand. We went out twice a day with an axe to chop holes in the tanks so the cattle could get to water; the ice was four inches thick at the edges. The night skies were crystalline. I’m not sure any subsequent Christmas has ever measured up in terms of natural magic.
This year we’ve been weather waiting. Waiting for rain. And waiting for winter. And I’ve been waiting: for understanding, enlightenment, calm, clarity, direction.
Our first “norther” blew through this week. While the slight promise of snow flurries did not prove true, the wind chill did drop into the teens and the koi pond was encased in a thin film of ice. I was caught off guard by it. I’d left the house in a t-shirt and yoga pants, but somehow never made it to the Y, instead whiling the day away with coffee and a book at Starbucks. I stepped outside at 2 p.m. into a different world: gray, gusty, and 35 degrees toward winter.
I was early to pick up Small Child that afternoon. First in line, I turned off the engine and listened to the roar and whistle. And as I watched the wind, as I could almost see its linearity – north to south – in the motion of tree limbs, I felt my need for winter stir deep inside me, particularly sharp as my fiftieth birthday approaches.
I want to stand, vulnerable and exposed, facing the north.
I want the wind, harsh and unforgiving, to rip the unnecessary, the obsolete, the dead weight from my soul and my life just as it tears the last remaining leaves from the trees.
I want to know my basic architecture, my trunk and my branches, from the roots to the tiniest twigs, with nothing to interfere.
I want, when the wind dies down, to gleam under the crystal stars of the winter sky.
I want the snow to come.
I want to rest under its blanket, to store up energy.
I want to dream of what is to come, of the next chapter, of the new growth that lies ahead.
I want the peace of winter solstice.
May it come to me and to you, my friends.