March 12, 2014 by Ray Yanek
The calender says that Spring is only a week or so away, but winter doesn’t seem very intent on leaving. On Monday, the temps rose into the 50’s, but last night winter storm Vulcan said hello. Originally, Vulcan was slated to bring 5-8 inches of snow and high winds. The weather stations backed off of that prediction somewhere around 3:30am, though. The high winds never came, but we were still blessed with 3 or 4 inches of the white stuff.
I say ‘blessed’, but I don’t know how many other people would agree with that word.
At the high school where I work teachers are grumbling, students aren’t impressed anymore, and the maintenance people responsible for snow removal are close to going over the edge. On my Facebook feed, people are throwing the f-word at winter as if the word were an ice ball and pictures of decapitated snow men abound. Traffic is crawling on the roads and the temp has dropped back into the lower 30’s. Tonight, the temp should fall into the teens.
Still though, I’ll stick with the word ‘blessed’. I’d like this weather better if I were home, sitting at the kitchen table or near our electric fireplace, writing this while I drank a cup of coffee, but I’ll take what I can get. It’s beautiful outside. The snow is wet and heavy. It’s glazed the trees and power lines. and the town that had been brown and muddy is fresh and whitewashed.
I am biased, though, I’ve always been winter’s biggest fan. Like with so many other things, I love the atmosphere of a snow-covered winter. I love the idea of being snowed in, of being in a warm house with a pot of soup simmering on the stove while a blanket and a book wait on the couch. I love the idea of a cabin tucked away in the woods, surrounded by trees heavy with snow much like the ones outside my window right now, while smoke slips from the chimney and the windows glow yellow. I love adventures set in the snow. Think of the north in George RR Martin’s A Game of Thrones series. No doubt Daenerys Targaryen and her adventures around Slaver’s Bay are fantastic. Dorne and her deserts would be worth visiting for the wines, but give me the North and Winterfell, The Wall and the Frostfangs.
I say all of this, but as I think about it, I feel a little hypocritical. Don’t get me wrong. I am enjoying the snow outside my window– enjoying it just like I enjoyed going for a run outside two days ago and found myself enamored with the songs of the birds, the warmth of the sun and the fond thoughts of spring.
That was my first outside run in awhile. (Minus the mid-winter disaster that was the Jingle Bell run that you can read about by clicking this text) I did a little over 3 miles and threw in a couple of wicked hills. I was feeling it, let me tell you. Yesterday and today, my ankles and feet hurt, my hammies and lower back are tight, but it was worth it to be outside again and not on a treadmill in a dark and cold basement. Also, being outside got me thinking about my daughter’s travel softball season that’s coming up right around the corner. I’m an assistant coach on that team, and I’ll also be a first-time head coach for my 9 year old son’s baseball team. When the summer gets here I’ll work full-time, but I won’t have to grade a damn thing. I’ll plant a garden, try to find time to write, to work out, to sit around bonfires, to smoke meats, cook-out and drink cold beers. Then the heat will come streaming in and people won’t go outside. They’ll grumble about the humidity and everybody and her brother will post pictures of the dashboard thermometers on Facebook.
As much I’d like to say I won’t, I know I’ll end up bitching about the heat too–vehemently.
This year though, after what I learned from Vulcan, maybe I’ll think about how, when the heat starts to fade, when the nights begin to arrive a little sooner, and the cool breezes of Fall call for a fire and a darker beer, how I’ll appreciate all those things even more when they finally do roll around.
Kind of like, despite having to say good-bye to the things I enjoy about winter, I know I will appreciate the warm breezes of Spring when they finally come back. And if it wasn’t for the pleasures of the spring and the ridiculous heat of the summer, I probably wouldn’t love the fall and winter as much as I do.
I think that the blessing of living in area that has a change of seasons and extremes in temperatures. The extreme changes in the weather truly help us value the other side of the spectrum. These extremes remind us as well, to seek those temperate zones of coolness and warmth between the cold and the heat.
My wants and my needs are a lot like this Midwestern weather, I think.
At times I feel the extreme comfort of the mellow, winter months, of the time when not much goes on and not much running around gets done. It’s nice. Cozy. Relaxing. But then I get a little bit antsy and need more movement. That’s when the excitement and chaos of the summer roles in– the coaching and the other job, the trying to find time to write and workout. It doesn’t take long in that phase to forget that winter ‘boredom’ and start longing for the hibernation that comes with the snow. Sometimes during that phase, I feel like I’m going to lose my mind, that things will never calm down, that my life is too hectic, that perhaps I’ll never find quiet time…
This summer though, maybe I’ll remember the patience winter storm Vulcan tried to teach me. Maybe this summer I’ll remind myself that, in the words of George RR Martin, winter is, and always will be, coming… and the cycle of my wants and needs will, like the seasons, roll on.
Maybe if I’m patient I’ll remember that life will ultimately give me the weather that I need.