Thursday, March 13, 2014


In a recent post I may have promised no more winter blahs, gripes, or rants.
Too bad, if I did, because I want to re-open the subject—not, I hasten to say, to blast away at winter’s grip on the upper Midwest—but to share some insights that came about one day when I wrote in my journal about winter. I was feeling particularly upbeat that day, and decided to explore the subject of redeeming social value to winter.

Now you have to understand: I am not an athlete, I do not ski or ice skate, or go on long winter treks through woods. I like winter landscapes, so long as I can admire them from a warm house, with a mug of hot chocolate or fragrant tea in hand; and if the house is drafty, I’ll wear a couple layers of turtlenecks and heavy knitted sweaters. When folks say they hate winter because it’s so ugly, I shake my head. The shapes of trees and shrubs are visible without their leaves. Winter shadows are blue on snow. Evergreens are greener against a background of less color.
With that background, I’ll tell you some characteristics I discovered about winter that deserve recognition. I call them Hidden Gifts.

If you look outside and all you see is snow cover, then you could say everything is hidden by the snow. Grass, shrubs, mulched flower beds, patio, sidewalk, driveway. I know they exist under their white cover.

But the Hidden Gifts I’m thinking about are the benefits (really!) that accrue because of deep snow and cold.

Here are some thoughts to share with you:
Spring - dinner time
·         Monday and Tuesday this week were milder, temps warmer, snow melting and running down the drains; everyone I spoke with smiled, talked of spring days to come. In the midst of snow piles on every corner, higher than our heads, and a forecast of 4-8 inches of new snow yesterday, those mild days were a gift. Not exactly hidden, but it’s easy to forget how nice those days were when the new snow clogs up driveways and streets, closes schools, and causes us to cancel medical appointments and scramble to reschedule. The soft days were a gift we didn’t anticipate and roused our hearts with hope for spring.

Summer feeders
·         A truly hidden gift is the benefit of snowmelt on our water table. We may wonder where all that snow is going to go, but eventually it does melt and much of it goes underground. We are guaranteed future moisture for our crops, lawns, and trees. Two years ago in our area of northeastern Indiana, the summer was one long drought. We watered, we mulched, we prayed…and we watched our annuals droop, our perennials wither, and worried about the trees that sheltered us with their leaves. This year’s crop of water ought to meet the needs of whatever summer brings in 2014.

·         Then those sharp days, with below-zero temps that seemed never-ending, all helped wipe out pests that live from year to year when we have mild winters. Our crops, lawns, and landscaping won’t be compromised so much in the seasons to come. Not to mention relief for allergy sufferers with respiratory problems.

Same feeders - winter
The winter of 2013-2014 will live long in memory. It came to visit before Christmas and never left, except for a couple of short side visits to other relatives. My winter wardrobe is almost threadbare by now because I’ve worn it so many months, but I can always buy new sweat pants and sweaters next year. The important thing is, I was warm, my house was comfortable, and so far, there have been no accidents—no falls on ice, no skids on slick streets.

I'd hate to miss this sight.
Years ago I dreamed of spending winters in southern Arizona. Eventually the dream expanded to include retirement. Now—I’m a little more realistic. The warmer climate would be wonderful for a winter or two, but I know I’d miss the four seasons we enjoy here in the Midwest—southern Arizona has seasons, but the changes are more subtle. I’m all for the ones that have definite personalities.

Maybe I can expand this exercise about finding hidden gifts in difficult or unwanted circumstances to the rest of my life. Not every cloud has a silver lining, but I won’t know until I look for one. It just might be there.

Autumn 2013 - leaves in my back yard.


1 comment:

  1. That's one thing I like about the gifts are easier and easier to find! Nice post, Judith.