NEVER MIND ABOUT WINTER
Two hours on the couch with my thoughts and on the floor with a daughter with a sketchbook and building blocks, and life is good. February drags on as always, but I’ve changed my mind about it in the span of a morning.
I watch travel TV from home, where we are snowbound by choice. My small person and I stay in until we can’t not trudge out to get art supplies and pay a bill, and maybe get a book that the library did not have yesterday. Still, sitting in this warm house in pajamas feels best, for now. She gathers bits of paper and ideas and consent: yes, we can get her cousin a necklace with a heart pendant for Valentine’s day, yes, the Grover Cleveland project can include flowers and glitter. I gather minutes of comfort until real life shoves snow into our boots. It’s deep out there today, but we have things to do.
This winter in the Midwest has given us good snow, the kind that lasts for more than a day. We’ve been snowed in often enough to send the public schools into a scramble to add “instructional days”, which really means that the kids will lose a holiday or two, but only if the school board can agree with parents at a meeting in a few days. I don’t care. I just tick off the days until summer frees us from the grind of bus stops and homework and so much structure. My small person and I do not like winter, a prison sentence of a season. Spring sends us into the back yard to find green things, growing things, and sweet black dirt where seeds have the best chance to turn into flowers. I keep my cold-hate to myself, but she pronounces her opinion in Crayola marker on bits of boxes waiting to be recycled: I hate winter, she writes but does not say because hate is a bad word here. I see her silent words and I remember being her size and knowing that the trees would never be green again. February is a hand-chapping struggle.
We sit in classrooms and at work and on this couch, and we wait, watching for the trees to wake up. When the trees trust the tilt of the earth and brave the chilly air with their new leaves, smiles bloom among us. The houseplants migrate to the porch. The cat might even go outside this spring, if we trust her to stay away from the terrifying street out front. For now, she stays in, with us, where we know we are all safe in this sweet old house. This house makes winter less so. The small person’s bright classroom in its strange old building with tall tall windows makes winter less so. The wait feels less long when sunlight fills the rooms in which we wait.
Still, the travel TV does more harm than good. Too much green, all out of season, and all out of reach, and the water on the TV is so blue and warm. Palm trees grow in pots in Illinois. So do lemon trees, thanks to sincere wishing by a small person right around Christmastime and a little sneakiness on my part help Santa prove a point.
This morning, we plotted a map from the back door to the sturdy new-old truck, from our driveway to the first stop on the errand list, with plenty of room for “let’s just go home already”.
Never mind about all of the winter-hating. We are warm, safe, loved, together. We have only a few more weeks before we burst into the green part of the year and into fewer hours bundled into whatever keeps us from freezing at the edges. The windows will wrench open soon enough. Never mind about anything but this gift of a day with a sparkly little girl and later, a beautiful boy and his beautiful snow-loving dog. We have everything.
Now it’s noon, when I had decided that the outside part of the day should begin. Time to boot up, wrap up, trundle carefully into the bigger world, to find some flowers for Grover Cleveland.