It’s been chilly.
Sunny, but chilly. The sun is deceptive. My children see the bright sunshine streaming through the windows and excitedly start dancing around: “we want to go outside and play!” Now here in the great Midwest, we tend to get very long and bitterly cold winters. Come March or April when the temperatures start to get above 50 degrees again, it’s not unusual at all to see people out in shorts and flip flops, everyone is just so thankful for it not to be freezing cold anymore.
But we’re not at the end of winter; we’re at the beginning.
When I was a child, winter was magical. My mother would bundle my sister and I in coordinating pink and purple snow suits with matching moon boots and send us outside to play. We had great big bushes outside my childhood home, and the white snow would light the otherwise dark ground underneath it up, transforming the bushes from a dark, scary place to a winter’s maze. We would get on our hands and knees and crawl through the labyrinth, pushing branches out of our faces and knocking the red berries off as we went. I remember stopping to look at the snow balancing perfectly on every branch, glittering in the frigid air and feeling wonder at its beauty.
Something happened. The enchanted winters took a nosedive in terms of wonder as I grew up. Suddenly, charting a winter wonderland was replaced with twenty minutes of warming up my car while I scraped frozen ice off its windows. It turned into the kind of panic that trying to brake while driving over ice brings, and the cabin fever that comes when it’s been in the negative temperatures for over two weeks.
The Waldorf method of teaching children encourages “outside play every day”. But when the forecasters urge everyone to stay indoors unless absolutely necessary, with “dangerously cold” temperatures, when it becomes too cold even to snow, there’s a point where you just call it a day and sit inside with the heat cranked up and a mug of steaming hot coffee and the softest blankets you have wrapped up around you.
… but it’s not winter yet.
And yesterday, as we listened solemnly to the forecast of “first snow tomorrow”, we decided to say goodbye to fall in style. The temperatures were chilly, but we dressed accordingly, and we huddled near the fire to keep warm once the sun went down. We brought marshmallows to roast and thermoses of hearty soup and hot coffee. The children, impervious to the cold as they are, ran around laughing in search of the first snowflakes as the rest of us enjoyed one of our last evenings out under the stars before our gatherings would move indoors.
This morning, as I woke and put the coffee on, I pushed aside the blinds to peek outside. On the ground lay a thin white blanket of winter’s first snow. After the children wake up, I know they’ll gulp down their breakfast and immediately beg to go outside into their own magical winter wonderland. I’ll bundle up as well and push my grumpy grown-up feelings aside and will try to see winter through the eyes of my children, and remember how their eyes were once my own. And the adults that pass by, all wrapped up in coats and scarves will glance at me with a touch of sympathy, but smile when they hear the shrieks of excitement and elation from my happy children. Children remind us all how there is joy in everything.
~ Mellie ★