Says six more weeks of winter.
Haven’t shoveled yet!
More is not necessarily better. — me
This weekend, Central Illinois was scheduled to get “a little snow.”
That’s what the meteorologists at the TV station told us anyway. One to three inches, tops.
When temperatures finally climb above the freezing mark
And the sun shines brightly in the winter sky above,
Icicles hanging from the eaves of most houses
Begin to melt and drip in tapering shapes.
And gradually the warmth turns ice
Into cold water that’s destined
To refreeze overnight until
The same thing happens
The very next day, and
Eventually, drip by
Drip, the entire
In a pool
P.S. Poetic form is a Shape Poem.
The seasons are what a symphony ought to be: four perfect movements in harmony with each other. ~Arthur Rubinstein, Polish American classical pianist
Sometimes, we get lucky and find a tree that’s beautiful in all seasons. Such is the case with our Weeping Cherry.
As I type this, it’s snowing outside.
Now, for some people, that would be a nuisance and an inconvenience. They’re the ones who bask in warm temps year-round, who never have to worry about snow-covered sidewalks and icy roadways. They don’t own winter coats or mittens, and boots are purely a fashion statement.
Part of me envies them their sunshine. I, too, used to live in the south where it’s easy to put up outside decorations at this time of year. But the bigger part of me welcomes winter.
C’mon, how many Christmas cards depict palm trees and beach scenes?? How many carols sing of balmy weather and golf courses? And you can’t roast chestnuts over an open fire when it’s blazing hot outside!
Nope, this is the time of year when it’s supposed to be cold. Trees, grass, and plants are supposed to grow dormant. Squirrels and birds are supposed to become scarce. Daylight is supposed to become shorter.
People, too, are supposed to “hibernate.”
I can remember many winters as a child when we used this time of year to learn new things — how to play chess, for example. Or pinochle or hearts, monopoly or backgammon. Sometimes, entire days would go by when we couldn’t leave the house for the weather.
Talk about cabin fever!
True, shoveling mounds of heavy snow isn’t on top of my Fun-Things-To-Do list. Nor is driving on icy streets, having to wear a heavy coat and boots everywhere, and looking outside on yet another bleak, gray day.
But there’s something to be said for curling up with a good book and a cup of hot chocolate while the wind howls outside!
And, while winter itself sometimes seems to drag forever, it won’t be long before the days lengthen, the warmth returns, and the earth comes alive again.
That’s why I like having four distinct seasons!
I used to look forward to summer.
When I was a kid, summer meant outside — no vegetating in front of the TV for us!
That long expanse of time between the end of one school year and the beginning of another found us getting together with friends, playing games and jacks, dancing to music. We’d buy frosty milkshakes from the ice cream vendor who scouted the neighborhoods, swim in our city’s pool, and play hours of tennis.
The days were long and sunny. Who cared if they were hot? Just wait around a while and a raging cold front would come through, driving temperatures back into the comfortable range, moistening the ground, pruning a few trees, and wiping away the humidity.
Nights would find us catching fireflies in jars (with holes poked in the lids so the bugs could breathe!). We’d ride our bikes to a friend’s house, play softball in a vacant lot, and enjoy the lingering daylight.
So what happened?
I’m not sure. The Weather Channel hasn’t addressed this, and I haven’t seen anything in our newspaper or on TV or the Internet to explain it.
Somewhere along the line, our weather has changed.
Our summers have become fierce, with tons of rain, violent storms, high temperatures, and unbearable humidity. When cold fronts come through nowadays, like as not they’ll kick our power out, cause the tornado sirens to wail, knock down shade trees, and finally spent, leave destruction, flooding, and more high temps and humidity in their wake.
Spring used to be our stormy season, but its days were short and we were in school. Once spring flew away, the days lengthened into summer, and we raced outside to enjoy every minute.
Hard to enjoy summer anymore.
We’ve had the rainiest June and July on record, I think. As soon as winter’s snow melted, we found ourselves smack-dab in the middle of a season that seems confused whether it’s “spring” or “summer”!
Maybe we’ll just have to look to autumn as our peaceful season from now on.
I moved aside a big flower pot this afternoon and guess what I found?
Yep, a whole crop of daffodils and tulips have poked their noses through the ground (and the snow!), in preparation for their annual display of color.
It’s been a rough winter — everywhere. Mr. Groundhog (the one everybody listens to) says we’re going to have six more weeks of it. I don’t know about you, but I’m tired of winter.
Tired of shoveling snow.
Tired of creeping along icy streets.
Tired of gloomy, gray days.
So let’s celebrate. Here’s the photo I took of the posies lurking beneath the warmth of a flower pot.
Spring is coming, and I can’t wait!
This is the time of year when we Midwesterners prepare our homes, and ourselves, for the coming Winter months.
We browse through the Farmer’s Almanac, hoping to learn whether we’ll be in for lots of snow and ice, or whether it will be a mild Winter. We service our cars so we won’t get stranded on some lonely road in the middle of nowhere. We get our flu shots (or take our chances without!), load up on canned goods, and mentally prepare ourselves to dig in and hibernate, perhaps with a cup of hot chocolate and a good book!
When I was younger and living in an apartment in the South, it wasn’t a big deal to winterize. Weeks wouldn’t go by when you couldn’t get out of your own parking lot. All we had to do was hang a few Christmas decorations, and we were ready for the season. Not so living in a house in the Midwest.
One thing on the “must-do” list now is to call the heating/air conditioning company and have your furnaces checked — you don’t want to be without heat in sub-freezing temps!
You’ve also got to pull up the remains of the garden (it’s no longer producing veggies anyway) and look over the outside flowers to determine which (if any!) can be brought inside and babied until Spring.
Then there’s the outside furniture and grill; they’re cleaned and relegated to storage. And, once the farmers have harvested their corn and soybeans, you might want to wash the dust off the windows of your house. I say might because, while my mom is a firm believer in this practice, I rank it up there with leaf-raking (a pointless waste of time!)
Which reminds me — you do have to do something with all those leaves. Some communities have huge leaf vacs to suck them from curbside (where residents have raked them); others recommend bagging them for citywide pickup and disposal. You also can run them over with a mulching mower and let them naturally decompose. Whatever, it’s just not neighborly to let them blow from one yard to the next and hope somebody else’s fence row will catch them!
You’ve got to get out the storm doors, clean them, and put them up in place of the screened ones, which then must be stored. Oh, and don’t forget to clean the leaves out of your gutters before they turn into soggy, nasty, black things that nobody would want to touch! If you have a fireplace, you’ll probably want to have it checked (yes, there are such folks as chimney sweeps, and they do even get rid of unwanted animal nests!)
I like to give my Sheltie a nice bath while it’s still sunny and warm enough to dry him outside. With all his profusion of fur, no way do I want to be drying that coat of his indoors — and making more work for myself!
After all this, then you can hang the Christmas decorations, toast some marshmallows, make a pot of tea, and snuggle down with a thick novel!