A blush color seeps back into my white knuckles as I pull into the garage. The door slowly shuts, closing out the icy blanket that made driving home so miserable. Wondering if this winter will ever end, I hear a chickadee abandon his winter song and prematurely sing his springtime song, “spring’s coming.” My heart begins to melt depressing thoughts away. There are some good qualities to the long dark nights of January. It brings a new start, once the hassle of wrapping up business transactions for the previous year is done. It’s a slow month for most of us. And that’s a good thing!
Life is much more exciting when there are contrasts. Those busy holidays are much more enjoyable when it’s added to a rather empty calendar. The artist in me loves a splash of color in a monochromatic room. The nature lover in me craves a rainy day after many sunny hot days. I’ve learned to appreciate the quiet long dark winter nights after all the busy social Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s events. For most of us, January is a time to sit quietly and binge watch our favorite shows.
The most desired show for me, is not a program on television or online. It’s a warm welcoming fire surrounded by a beautiful stone fireplace. I watch as the small flames of the new fire sparkle on the small aspen wood kindling pieces and the stringy elm log fibers. The dark walnut wood is a beautiful log that adds depth to the fire, even though it will leave more ashes than the others. I think about how hard it was cutting each these logs from dead trees in our woods. It’s true, firewood warms you twice. I remember sweating as I carried, split, and stacked each log. –The flames grow and its heat intensifies as the heavy red oak and hickory logs become the heart of the fire. Watching the blue and orange flames dance around the twisted, knurled, blackened pieces of firewood, I become mesmerized.
Snuggling into my overstuffed chair, a calm feeling dilutes any feel of urgency. There’s no need to guilt myself into thinking I should be doing anything. Sitting with a glass of wine I notice the flurries outside. There is a snow globe effect in the windows that surround me. It’s close to seventy degrees difference from the temperature outside to what it is in front of the fire.
For those that live in the more extreme latitudes, learning to like winter makes life more pleasant. It’s a large percentage of our year. I figure, I can either muddle my way through these long winter evenings with a blur of television episodes or create a mood that allows time for contemplating life and becoming a little wiser.
The trinket from these experiences, I may find useful when writing children’s stories, is this. When winter tells us to slow down, try to listen. We shouldn’t sit and watch life pass us by. But rather, savor every minute.