Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Winter Is a Time for Rest

Winter is not what it used to be when I was young. Of course, the way I remember it is fouled by the span of time and the memory is distorted by other factors. Global warming makes me believe that there was a time when winters were solid ice and lasted from November to March without a break. In actual fact, winters were never like that in the East Texas of my youth. We did have cold spells and ice. We occasionally got snow, but we never got enough for people to learn to drive in it. We sometimes got ice that would freeze the stock tanks and water troughs. It was good for a story about trying to feed the cows or hang the clothes to dry--this was before everybody had a dryer.

The "Dick and Jane" stories always showed mounds of snow and ice skating on the river. My mother and father never owned a car, so I walked to school daily in all seasons.  It was not the proverbial five miles uphill both ways, but three blocks did acquaint me with the pain of life in the cold zones. It was still cold, and we still soldiered on, but we didn't have the joy of fighting through winter like the pioneers. Our most difficult challenge was lighting a fire in the morning. We had a wood burning stove that took some effort to get going, and the inside of the house was as cold as the outside was. 

The prevailing mood of winter to me is still hibernation. I like to stay warm and enjoy scenery through the window. The penguins are fun if you watch them on TV and I remember times of braving the wind and ice when we had cows to feed. I think I felt some measure of invincibility in those episodes-I was stronger than I thought. But when the work or crisis was over, I just wanted to retreat to the warmth and comfort of the house away from the cold and strain. 

The land, grass, and trees vote for hibernation. Some of the animals do and, as far as possible, I do. I like to wrap up in a warm blanket and read poetry on cold days, but there are times when I enjoy the snow on the roof, or the icicles on the power lines, but just the sight is sufficient;I don't need to feel the sting of the wind on my face. I remember what it was like and resting until spring is appropriate. 

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