The Cold War

Oddly enough, this winter is okay with me. We’ve had snow, and more snow, and not a day of temperature respite in four months.  It’s unusual for Kansas City.   Most winters, we have a day or so a month that the air bobs up to 50 or even 60, and I take the top down on my ancient convertible and remember what air feels like when it’s human-friendly.  Not this winter.  Yet I am okay with this.

Every other February of my life, I have been the most vocal invoker of spring.  I have been the first to say, “Oh, my God, can you believe it is snowing AGAIN?”  It has snowed so much this year, people don’t even talk about it anymore.  This must be what it’s like somewhere up north, where I deliberately don’t live because I’m too skinny to survive.

Every other winter, I eyed my open-toed shoes and sundresses lustfully.  I developed an antipathy for wool and long underwear and layers that make you squirm to shake everything down to its natural level.  I looked at the stripped tree limbs and felt only the loss of their lush, spread-eagle leaves.  I daydreamed about lying on living grass, with sun glaze on my bare, dirty feet.

I don’t feel so dissatisfied this year.

This winter feels protective. The cold keeps me tucked away.  The snow insulates what looks dead, and spreads clean, consistent color where there were organic browns, pale midwestern house paints, and silver cars smudged with road muck.

This winter, I’m not ready yet to underdress and let everyone see my toes.  I know I have more time to preserve what’s good and sift out what’s moldy– literally and metaphorically.  I know I need more time to regroup, before I throw open my house.

I have never understood what winter had to offer, at least not after a cheerfully snowy Christmas and New Year’s.  The dark and cold always made me frustrated.  Personal losses mirror our loss of space and splashy beauty and open windows.

But I’ve never exercised this much through a winter.  I don’t feel stir crazy or numb when I’ve run a mile.  Exercise burns off anger.  So sometimes I’m sadder afterward, but not frozen.  It also helps to live in small space I can afford to heat to a pleasant temperature, and, thanks to our school’s elderly boiler, work in a decidedly balmy classroom.  I would also heartily recommend the hot tub, and a humidifier.

Good habits and cozy environs help.  It’s also possible winter and I have finally come to a truce.  Winter cocoons you, and I may have learned some more value in patience and self-protection.

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