Monday, January 24, 2011

What I Love About Winter - A List

1. Friday night is family night... especially in winter.
After a busy week filled with work, school, tae kwon do classes, church youth group activities and which sometimes includes overnight business trips for Dad, Friday night is our night to come back together as a family and just... be.  We make a pizza, watch movies, make popcorn, watch more movies, laugh and snuggle by the fire and sometimes the card players play cards.  I am not a card player, but just listening to the banter while the rest of my family is embroiled in a heated game of Crazy 8's brings me great joy.

2. Snow days.
Working from home means when Mother Nature shuts down the school, I have no need to scramble in an effort to find child-care or venture out in horrible conditions.  So, we sleep in.  Drink hot cocoa.  Watch the snow fall.  Make a pot of soup.  And enjoy every minute of it.

3. Homemade soup.
And speaking of making a pot of soup...  well, I love making homemade soup or stew.  Venison or beef stew, koephla soup, chicken soup, chili, broccoli cheese, chicken tortilla, minestrone.  There is nothing quite so therapeutic as chopping the vegetables and simmering stock, nor so comforting as a bowl of hot, homemade goodness after spending time outdoors in frigid temperatures.  Yes, I do make soup the rest of the year... but in winter it restores my soul.

4. Learning
Winter is the season when I have a bit more time to take classes, read, and try new things.   If there is a project I need to tackle, winter is when I have the long evenings to read, research, contemplate, and create.  This year one of my new projects is creative journaling, using paint and decoupage and embellishments of all sorts.  My dining room is now a studio and my astonished family intrigued by the sudden burst of creativity.

5. Rest.
Dark winter afternoons often beg for a nap.  And sometimes, I indulge them.  Having endured years of chronic sleep deprivation when my daughters were younger (and even mono when the youngest was a baby), I've now rediscovered the bliss that is sleep.  While I feel guilty taking a nap on a beautiful summer's day (and usually have little desire for one), in winter its a different story altogether.  And... a rested mom is a happy mom. :)

6. Dreaming... and planning.
Winter is when I do the most dreaming in regard to where I want to go in regard to my farm, family and business.  Its when I plan the next year's farm improvements, the vegetable and flower gardens, and which mares will be bred to which stallions in the spring.   I ponder whether to raise more bottle calves, or if we should build raised beds for the vegetables.  I dream about the foals growing in their momma's bellies and prepare for their births.  This is also the time of year when I catch up on the organizing, paperwork and correspondence which falls by the wayside during the busy summer months when we are haying, fixing fences, mowing, gardening, barn-cleaning and, sometimes, fishing.

7. Cozy things.
Warm shearling boots.  The wool scarf my mother brought back from Ireland for me.  Micro-fleece neck warmers.  Duo-fold long-johns.  The jeans quilt my husband had a friend make for me out of our "farming jeans" for Christmas when I was pregnant with our oldest daughter.  Yes, I am thrilled when the weather warms and I can pack those items away for the next season... but the winter makes me eternally grateful for their presence in my life.

8. School.
My family is profoundly, abundantly blessed by the fact our children attend an amazing public school with a wonderfully kind, attentive and creative staff.  The academics are top-notch, the school concerts and activities always enjoyable, and I take great pleasure in watching my girls learn and grow by leaps and bounds in that nurturing environment.

9. Reading.
Yes, I mentioned it earlier, but winter reading is in a category all its own.  In summer, I trend toward novels which can be read in fits and starts on the front porch while resting between chores.  Wintertime brings with it deeper, more thoughtful reading, the sort which commands more time and attention.  It broadens my horizons, yet clarifies my perspective.

10. Springtime.
Yes, I realize this is a post listing all I love about winter... but hear me out.

On the coldest, most brutal of days, when soup and warm boots and a good book don't work, I rest in the knowledge that spring will, indeed, arrive.  I never know exactly when; it could show up anytime between March and (Heaven forbid) June.  But that's precisely my point.  It is something we can look forward to and depend upon.  I know that when the weather breaks and the snow disappears, I will hit the ground running and slow down very little until freeze-up.  Knowing the hard work and long hours of springtime are just around the corner, I take pleasure in mindfully creating a pot of soup, in devouring a new book or taking the time to learn a new skill, in sinking into my sofa under a warm quilt and taking a nap.  Its about enjoying the moment and the life I've purposefully created.

I cannot live for summertime alone, at least not here in Minnesota, lest  I spend many depressed months lamenting bad weather and boredom (believe me when I tell you I've gone that route and it wasn't pretty) .  Life is what you make it, every day, every single season of the year.

And right now, I'm making soup.

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