Gone Out

There are about six weeks left in this year, which is just nuts. Thanksgiving is next week, and yesterday we got our first real snow. A layer of white knitted the tree branches into delicate lace, while thick layers of white velvet draped on prickling pines. People complained. It was a great day.

This first snow filled me with a feeling of ridiculous hope. There was just something about the fact that something so beautiful can come from wind and cold, and that if that can happen, anything can.

These past few months, I’ve had a good season of writing. But I’ve decided I want to finish out the year being more thoughtful, more contemplative, than productive. I want the space to really notice the beauty and joy of these last few weeks, and to enjoy them without stress, without hurry.

There are some projects I’d like the space to to work on without an immediate need to share. And I want to get back in the habit of producing good work which I share because I love it, not producing just to share.

All this to say, I’m taking a blogging break for the rest of the year. It’s a little retreat, a self-conference. Have a lovely rest of 2018, as we look forward to the new year with joy.

I Will Love Winter

Almost a year ago I wrote a post called “How to Survive Winter (in Eleven Easy Steps)“. While I appreciate the sentiment in which I wrote it, I feel I’ve matured in a year, and now I am ready to tackle the monumental task of actually loving winter.

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As a kid, I loved the cold, ice, and snow of Western PA’s longest season. My winter memories are filled with snow forts and snow men, pine trees, hot cocoa and bundling up on the couch to watch Peter Rabbit. These memories have left me with a deep-seated affinity for late-90s long wool coats and fluffy hats.

maria and me in the snow
(My oldest friend and I, before any consciousness of fashion.)

Unfortunately, I’m an adult now, which means I can drive. Winter’s no fun at all when you have to drive in it. I also have a tendency to be glum when the weather’s glum. So last year’s goal to simply survive winter was an attempt to not give into seasonal despair.

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But why should half the year serve as fodder for grumpiness? Why should we automatically kick into survival mode when snow starts to fly? Unfortunately, this is the Pennsylvania way. As a Pennsylvanian, I protest. This is not doing winter justice. It’s not doing nature justice. And, if you’re inclined to take it further, it’s not doing God justice either.

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Winter is beautiful, and yesterday was the perfect winter’s day. The sky was pearly, cloudy baby blue, and the snow fell in thick clumps, blanketing the trees and rooftops. It’s the kind of weather I used to spend watching Peter Rabbit after hours of cold, flushed sled-riding. Winter, I’ve found, in all its icy, cozy, wet and slushy glory, is a part of life. If we ignore or try to simply survive giant chunks of life because we deem them less than ideal, we miss out on the incredible beauty and blessing that can be in them.

Sometimes it’s genuinely, horribly, not fun to go through a winter, whether it be literal or figurative. (find me in March; I’ll be complaining then.) But when we approach our winters with an open mind and a determined heart, we find the beauty in the cold. And at the end we appreciate the season for what it was.

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I came across a Norwegian saying in my winter studies. Norway, as you know, is much colder than Western PA in the winter, but from what I’ve seen the Norwegian people are much less grumpy about it than Pennsylvanians. They say that “there is no bad weather, only bad clothing”. It sounds trite and quirky, but it’s actually an excellent game changer. When we actively prepare for and purpose to enjoy the colder season, we find we can focus on the glittering snow and stark tree branches instead of our wet toes and frozen ears.

The Norwegians (apparently) also value community, and winter means a chance to ski or toboggan and cozily socialize with friends and family. This year I’ve started an (admittedly nerdy) knitting group in my home, and this will keep me and my friends connected while the days are dark and cold.

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(these are not the friends to which I was referring.)

If you’re interested in joining me as I re-learn to love winter, take a look at my Pinterest board (if only to reassure yourself that winter is indeed pretty). If you find something that could contribute to the cause, suggest it to me! Together we will not just survive: we will take joy

 

 

Birdsong

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Hide away, hide away

in the green holly tree,

while the ice and the wind

whip you raw.

 

Hide away, hide away,

build your nest in the leaves,

make a pocket of home

in the frost

 

Hide away, hide away,

don’t you fly from the cold.

Sing your songs while the snow

plays the drums.

 

Hide away, hide away,

for the season grows old,

and the snowdrops will melt,

sprouting up.

 

How to Survive Winter (in Eleven Easy Steps)

Ah, winter. It is the season of cozy, and I love cozy, but I hate how for some reason people still expect me to go out and do things. No! Let me stay home and be cozy, gosh darnit! Unfortunately, I am overruled. Life must unreasonably go on.

For those of you who might be suffering from winter blues (or the sheer deficiency of coziness), I offer eleven easy ways to survive the winter season. You can do it!

 

rosie parka

 

 

Wear (fake or real) Fur. 

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Somehow it’s just really wintry. No matter how cold it is, with my fur-trimmed coat and boots, I look like a rugged tundra dweller (which the weather apparently thinks I am). And the coolness of it takes your mind off of the reason for it.

 

Drink Coffee or Tea (or cocoa, if you must). 

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Some people choose – ahem – other drinks to drown their troubles, but honestly these beverages are what life is made of. A steaming cup of coffee or tea will vanquish any winter blues.

 

Build a Snowman. Knock it Down. Repeat. 

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Build it first because, it’s winter and that’s fun. Knock it down because, it’s winter and you have to take your anger out on something. Build it again because, poor snowman. What did he ever do to you?

 

Take up Knitting.

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I always have to push for this. But seriously, what’s cozier than a big ball of yarn and two sturdy needles and being productive while you’re watching TV? nothing. And that brings me to my next point:

 

Become Good Friends with Sir Netflix, Lord Book, and Count Music.

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They are jovial fellows who offer hours of amusement. Lord Book is slightly more intellectual, but from time to time even Sir Netflix can come up with some doozies. Count Music is more unassuming; he prefers to stay in the background but can be persuaded to be the life of the party, given the right circumstances.

 

Take Pictures. 

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Honestly, it’s beautiful outside. Revel in it. Look for beauty where before you were tempted to only see icy torture. It’s there. I promise.

 

Stand Alone in the Woods While it’s Snowing.

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This is specific, but it’s a must on your bucket list. Stand still, hold your breath, and listen to the snow fall. It’s the most beautiful experience in the world. BONUS: You’ll feel like you’re in Narnia.

 

Eat. 

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Be careful with this one. It has a tendency to bite back at you in the end (see what I did there?). But there’s nothing more lovely than toast and a good thick soup on a winter’s day. Yum yum yum.

 

Choose Warmth Over Style. 

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And if you can, choose both. Fabulous.

 

Snuggle. 

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Hugs and Snuggles are the best thing ever, especially in winter. Find a pet, a pillow, or a person (preferably one you know  — very well) and stay close.

 

Chin Up!

Remember the words of Mr. Shelley:

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And above all, stay frosty my friends!

Rambles of a College Student

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Three weeks in, and so tired.

It’s cold,

my coffee’s gone,

and I didn’t sleep nearly enough.

(Lunch is in an hour, so that’s a plus.)

The wheel in the sky

turns over and over.

Day class, night class, eight am’s.

Reading, writing, do again.

Oh the Humanities.

Three weeks in, and so tired.

“Spring cannot be far behind”,

but it’s only January still,

so yes it can be.

I have half a mind

to quit

but I won’t,

so I’ll cry and suck it up

and do my homework.

Oh the Humanities.

Bitterkalt

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The air is raw

and smells of ice and smoke.

The land is cleared of distraction,

everything unhidden,

everything laid bare.

Above is the lightest turquoise stone,

very smooth,

and the sunset

casts periwinkle shadows

on the white reposing drifts

that fall and collect

with a sound louder than silence.

The flame flickers cold,

and night comes early

onto the bony black fingers

that scrape against the turquoise.