The holiday tinsel has tarnished and trees are piled up on the sidewalks like tumbleweeds. The Pomegranates admit that our Christmas decorations are still on the lawn, rather muddy and shopworn, but frozen to the ground. As long as we don't plug them in at night, we believe they are camouflaged by the snow and no eyes but our can detect them.
Yet, for once, or so far, or this week, this minute, I am not sick of winter. Do I jump out of bed at 6:00 a.m. in the gray, cold light of dawn and embrace another morning of shivering as I wait for the hot water to come out of the shower tap? Er, no, but neither I have I succumbed to eating two bars of dark chocolate at night or an entire lemon meringue pie to assuage the darkness of my winter soul.
See, this winter, it really is wintertime. I am enjoying the drama of it all: the single digit temperatures, the daily snow showers that lay a clean, white sheet over the dirty slush on the sidewalks, the layering of scarves and sweaters, the need for new boots (Oh yes I did!) and even the sudden bloom of pashminas in the office, their colorful hues like the popping out of the first crocuses.
Winter can actually be enjoyed when there's a snap in the air but the sun is shining. The golf courses are criss-crossed with sled tracks and the lakes are frozen, something these virtual reality-fed kids find as amazing as the Easter Bunny. The Teen reports on the incredulity of her
high school classmates at the sight of a snowplow on the lakes clearing the ice. Won't they fall in? Will it melt now that the sun is out? What if it goes to 33 degrees?? Ah, youth. Dumb, dumb youth.
I won't pretend that I wasn't surfing travel sites a few nights ago, jonesing for some sand and water. Seems that despite the failing economy, you still have to float a mortgage (just not a sub-prime one) to take a week in the sun. But even if it was in the budget this year, there's a small matter of that puppy that needs walks on the icy snow and romps where his breath freezes in the air. Truth is, we wouldn't turn down a free trip to Puerto Rico, but the Cucch does tip the balance when we dither about taking a week. Put him in a kennel?? No way! we all decide and we already know there isn't a relative around that would watch him for a week. (The Pom In Laws are not pet friendly).
So here is my prescription for a winter that does not involve anti-depressants or full spectrum lights: get a dog, preferably an active, young dog. Start each weekend morning standing in the snowy woods, listening to the crunch of snow under paws and the honk of geese echoing off the hills. Drink in the pale morning sunlight and observe the spareness of the trees against the pearly sky. Throw some balls, fling some Frisbees, and watch the pack come over the hills, laughing when the regulars head straight for the right pocket of your parka, noses in search of dog treats. Try not to be overprotective parents when a big guy has your little one on its back, but learn to carry a stick or a plastic ball flinger in case squealing erupts.
When your fingers are so cold that you can't feel the latch on the leash, then it's time to go and head for a breakfast that involves steaming cups of coffee and much reading of the New York Times. By the time afternoon rolls around, head out again, this time to the water's edge, where a leaf skittering across the icy snow holds as much thrall for a 4 month old dog as the soccer ball you're kicking into the wind.
Finish up the day with much red wine, a meal cooked in one pot, supper eaten around the table and not in your lap (those days are over when labs rule the house), and wait for the silliness to erupt. A sit on the floor for a belly rub (yours or the dog) will be short-lived as you begin to nod off over a movie and a last glass of wine. Your kids will call you old farts when you turn the lights off before ten, but it is warm in the bed and the dog is snoring in his crate, and your limbs are weary and your feet hurt, but your head is clear and you know the sooner you go to sleep, the sooner you will be up and out, listening for the wind through the marsh grasses and the gulls screeching across the Sound.