I don’t hate winter. I don’t. I complain about winter more than any one human being really should, but that’s only because there’s just so darn much of it. San Franciscans complain about fog but they couldn’t really stand to live in San Francisco if they hated it. Seattle-ites complain about the rain, but they couldn’t bear those long grey winters if they really loathed it. My little mountainous corner of Idaho has winter and I complain, but I’d never survive if I really hated it.
Winter just feels so big, and lasts so long, that I never really escape it. Snow lingers on the mountains I see from my windows into July, which is also the month where I start fretting if I haven’t ordered firewood yet. I’ve lived here for seven years as an adult, and during one of those years I saw snowflakes, at least once, eleven months out of twelve. (That was a bad year. Summer lasted from July 1st, when the temperature broke 70 degrees for the first time, to August 29th. On Aug 30th it snowed.)
This wasn’t one of those years. This year we had a truly glorious summer that started early in May (MAY!) and lasted deep into September. My problem is that I’m already thinking about winter. Dreading it, preparing for it, fretting over how cold it will be and whether it will be a heavy snow year or a light one. Wondering if this is the year I should finally buy studded tires for my car. (Last year I got stuck in my driveway and had to put on chains to make it to the house.) Wondering when my neighbor will get around to delivering the firewood I ordered (in July).
It’s fall, and fall is glorious, but instead of enjoying it, I have a laser-like focus on what’s to come. But, except for getting on my neighbor about that delayed firewood, there’s nothing I can do. Winter will come, and it will be exactly as harsh or as mild as the jet stream (and whatever else goes into making weather, heck if I know) dictates and my dithering won’t change that. Maybe we’ll get a big storm and I won’t be able to make it into work and they’ll just have to figure out how to do without me. And maybe we won’t. That’s all for the future. This is a lesson I have to re-learn constantly. My life is happening *now* and I’m missing it.
Right now? The maple by my drive is a glorious red and the aspens that fringe my pasture are turning yellow. The crocuses are blooming, just like they do in the spring, making my flower beds look almost season-less. It’s time for butternut squash soup and pumpkin chocolate chip cookies, and digging my bread pans out and putting them to use. I have a home-made chai recipe that never feels right any other time of year. NaNoWriMo is just around the corner and I’m plotting out the last half of my never-ending book in the grand hope that maybe, this November, I’ll finish it. So I’m trying not to think about winter. I’m preparing, but I’m trying, so damn hard, to enjoy the fall. To “be here now” as Ram Dass wrote.
What about you? What are you doing to be here now? To mark and enjoy the changing season?