Too often we think of winter as drudgery, but this morning when I awoke I saw nothing but beauty. It had snowed almost all night. The snow was the light feathery kind. The trees were beautiful with their snow-covered branches. As one of the old farmers who lived nearby used to say, it looked "sanitary".
The temperature allowed the snow to have that glittery look. Since my animals had not been out yet, the yard was a sea of sparkly white without interruption.
The beauty of the snow is not the only joy of winter. I love my home and enjoy being home to cook, bake, and do crafts. December was that kind of month. The heavy snow forced me to stay in for a few days. I got so much done I could not believe it. My decorating was done early this year, so was my baking and cleaning. I even found time to knit more than I had intended.
When I taught school I treasured "snow days". They represented an unexpected day off. It did not matter that we had to make them up, all that mattered was that I had a day that I could do anything I wanted without feeling guilty because I had no plans. I was supposed to be at work.
The teachers loved those days as much as the students. Days like that meant my children went to the barn with their father to help with the chores. After the milking they, too, had some time to themselves.
Often the whole family went out in the fields or out in the pasture with the sleds. Sometimes we invited the neighbors to join us. There was a great hill on the gravel pit where we could slide or ski. The skis I mention were not the fancy kind with matching boots and bindings. We had skis that did not even fasten to your boots. The leather bindings that had originally been on them were long gone. I have a movie that shows one of the skis going down the slope without its passenger. Somehow everyone, except me, learned to use those skis though. I was always leery because when I was in high school I hurt my knee and it goes out of joint easily. I am not sure that out of joint is the right term, but at any rate my knee has always been a problem. I remember one Sunday afternoon my husband ended up carrying me back home because my knee went out while we were out on the sleds.
The children and grandchildren are good to help me. The young ones shoveled for me to have a path ready for our Christmas Eve celebration. My son keeps me plowed out so that I can come and go as I please. I am aware though that the responsibility of getting back home is mine so I do not venture out when it is bad weather.
Another joy that winter brings is that it is the dormant season. If I lived where it was warm all the time I would still be mowing lawn. With the dormancy, mowing stops around here in October. Most of what I do in October is really mulching the leaves.
My January calendar says "With enough coffee anything is possible". While I really appreciate my coffee, winter reminds me that with soup all is well. I absolutely love homemade soup. I make a batch almost every week. Sometimes my family helps me eat it, other times I finish it on my own. So far I have made vegetable soup, chili, turkey noodle, and most recently beef noodle. I gave my daughter the ham bone so she made the yellow pea soup this year.
The beef noodle was made with leftovers from a meal I made for my daughter and her family. I cooked the roast beef in my crock pot and made sure I had plenty of water so that I was making broth at the same time. Yesterday when I got home from church I added some cooked vegetables and then some noodles. It was delicious. Even my son said it smelled good when he came in to warm up before he finished plowing.
The daylight hours are increasing ever so slightly but the days are lengthening. That is another joy of winter. While the winter solstice brings the shortest day of the year, it is all uphill after that.
Someone in church commented on Sunday that if Nancy was there we would know how many days there were until spring. She always kept us posted on important things.
When the grandchildren are here we take the snow toys out. Since the yard by my house slopes to the road we can make a great sled path through the yard and get quite a ride. I am not sure that all children play outside as often as my grandchildren do, they really enjoy the sled rides and building snow sculptures. Notice I did not say snowmen the reason is that all kinds of creatures have been crafted at Hickory Heights and at their home.
Get out there and enjoy some time in the snow. If you think of it as fun, the winter will go a lot faster. A little exercise and cold weather is a wonderful excuse to enjoy a cup of hot chocolate with a gooey marshmallow, another one of winter's guilty pleasures.
Ann Swanson writes from her home in Russell, PA. Contact at firstname.lastname@example.org