Cedar Waxwings in Snow-covered Crabapple Tree

The promise of spring hangs in the air. We had a tease of 50 degree Fahren­heit weather. The daf­fodils are send­ing up their leaves. The snow drops are in full bloom, even after being buried in 5 inches of snow. Once the snow melted, they were thank­fully still there, as beau­ti­ful as ever, as though noth­ing had hap­pened. But another cold snap came and jolted us all. Win­ter isn’t quite over yet. We counted our spring chicks before they hatched.

This win­ter has been par­tic­u­larly hard. I don’t know why. I don’t think it’s because of the bliz­zard and extra snow, although that was chal­leng­ing for us. We lost power dur­ing the bliz­zard for two days. The house got down to 46 degrees Fahren­heit. We nor­mally keep it at 65 degrees F to con­serve oil. But we were fine. We sim­ply put on more lay­ers of warm clothes and had a fam­ily bed in the liv­ing room with every blan­ket in the house on it. Johann was sorry the camp­ing out in the liv­ing room was over after the power went back on.

I had to work harder to heat up food, but we weren’t with­out it. And we sure appre­ci­ated a hot cup of tea a whole lot more. I found my thoughts turn­ing to notic­ing small details even more than before. The sun­light reflect­ing off of the snow sparkled like fairy dust. The pat­terns the wind made in the snow looked just like the pat­terns it makes in the desert sand. If it was a black and white pho­to­graph or you changed the color of the snow to tan, you’d never know the dif­fer­ence. See­ing the resilience of the birds and hear­ing their songs filled my heart with instant joy.

Windblown Snow

I noticed that it was cold enough in the house that the tooth­paste was becom­ing crunchy. All I could think of was how amaz­ing that was. It was start­ing to freeze, just like in the New York Times arti­cle I read last year, “Chilled By Choice”, about urban peo­ple who delib­er­ately live with­out cen­tral heat­ing. One woman who was inter­viewed for the arti­cle said liv­ing with­out heat, even for a short time, was just as clar­i­fy­ing as a Zen retreat. I think I know what she means now.

My great­est con­cern, once I was sure Johann and Eric were fine, was keep­ing the fish alive. One more day and they all prob­a­bly would have died. Some­how my heat­ing water for water changes and insu­lat­ing the tank with tow­els was enough to keep them going. Mirac­u­lously, they all sur­vived. If we could find a way to keep the fish happy, we thought we could man­age just fine with­out elec­tric­ity for longer than a week­end if we had to, no mat­ter what time of year it was.

To bat­tle the win­ter blues, I’ve gone through my usual gam­bit: forc­ing paper whites, buy­ing seeds, and dream gar­den­ing with plant and seed cat­a­logs. I needed more light, so we moved the aquar­ium table to the wall in order to com­pletely open up the win­dow. I redid the din­ing room chair cov­ers in a bright turquoise and have plans for adding more color to the liv­ing room. I painted the new book­shelves Eric built. I can’t wait to splash more paint around. Cur­rently, I am read­ing 3 books about gar­den­ing or plants. I trans­planted some of my house­plants, mak­ing sure to make some mud pies while I was at it. Long walks when the wind isn’t unbear­ably harsh have lifted my spirits.

But there is still some­thing I can’t put my fin­ger on that is rest­less within me. The mil­i­tary mov­ing itch, spring fever, and cabin fever have hit me all at once, I sup­pose. Or since we’ve decided not to move locally this year, I can’t wait to make the most of the gar­den plot I have to work, even if I can’t call it mine. It’s still bet­ter than noth­ing. Or maybe giv­ing up eat­ing choco­late wasn’t such a good idea after all, despite the health issues I was hav­ing because of con­sum­ing it. As much as I enjoy cer­tain aspects of win­ter and love plants that can only grow where the ground freezes and there is a time of dor­mancy, I am way past being ready for spring! Why did the ground­hog have to see his shadow? Time for a hot cup of tea and med­i­ta­tion on being like the snow drops.