Groundhog Day (Perspective #2)
Today is Groundhog Day, and people here in the States wait eagerly to see whether a little creature in Pennsylvania tells us we’re going to have six more weeks of winter.
This has been a harsh winter throughout the country. We in New England have been known for our bad weather, but this year we’ve been outdone almost everywhere else—even Georgia. We have had more snowy days than usual, but no major storms, no paralysis—as yet.
I’m a heat-and-summer-loving person, but as I’ve gotten older I’ve come to realize that there is beauty in all four seasons—even winter. So, in the interest of perspective, I’d like to call out a few of the good things about winter.
The grace of winter is in slowing us down.
All our hectic activity of the other three seasons can fall prey within hours to a strong, fast snowfall, and we’re left to stare out of our windows in awe at a power that’s bigger than we are.
A few precious times a year, winter gives us the chance to “hunker down”; to realize we’re not going anywhere, to curl up in our warm homes with our favorite hot beverage and a book, and let time have its way.
These days that’s no small blessing.
I have to confess that I’m lucky in working at home, so I don’t have to make my way into and home from an office in snow and on icy roads. But having a dog forces me to go out at least once a day for her walk.
My dog loves the winter and the snow. She’ll happily stop every few feet to sniff at it, zigzagging her way from one drift to another, burying her face in it, and bringing me into her time.
While I wait for her I look around and notice the way the sun shines through bare branches and spills onto the sidewalk, running silver; the shocking blue of the sky without any heat haze to filter it. And when I pull myself into the moment I can even almost enjoy the cold, the bite of it on my face that makes my blood run sharper.
Winter allows me to wrap myself up in soft, warm, comfy clothes: corduroy pants, sweaters, shawls, long flannel nightgowns. I’m a lover of outerwear. Right now I have four or five winter coats, and one always seems exactly right for the kind of day it is: very cold, mildly cold, not so cold. I have soft scarves and cozy hats and warm gloves and knee socks. When it’s chilly inside the house I wrap myself in my own hand-crocheted shawl or cover up with a soft blanket. There's nothing like cuddling up inside something warm to make you feel secure.
Take a walk the day after a blizzard, when all the streets haven’t yet been cleared and cars are at a minimum. You can walk right down the middle of a normally busy road. People are outside, walking, trying out cross-country skis or snowshoes, shoveling. And they’re smiling and friendly, with that “we’re all in this together” sense of congeniality. We talk, smile and wave at each other, even strangers, proud in a way that we’re the ones venturing outside.
Our familiar neighborhoods look different. Colors seem brighter against the white background.
And then there are icicles.