I think it’s a sign of old age that we have begun to view the change of seasons only as they relate to dreaded household chores.
We have not yet put the leaf rakes and yes, I admit it, power leaf blower into that bleak section of the garage known as ‘off-season storage’, and we’ve begun to bemoan the prospect of winter and snow shoveling. As winter ends, we’ll start fretting about the spring pollen that clogs our screens and fills our deck. Just as that’s clearing away, we’ll be worrying about the lawn and the moles and the carpenter bees. And then, of course, we’re back to the leaves. Perhaps we’re ‘glass half-empty’ kind of people.
Now this would not be such a bad thing, but it does keep us from what life coaches and zen masters call ‘living in the moment’.
Today we should be enjoying the comfy temperatures that enable us to walk the neighborhood in just a sweater, instead of the heavy coats and caps that are soon to come. We should be enjoying the fact that it’s not yet dark at 4:30, as it surely will be a month from now. We should be enjoying the relative beauty of the brilliant reds still clinging to the row of burning bush shrubs that line our driveway, and the wonderful crunch of the dried leaves under our feet on the paths in Babler State Park. Are we doing this? Not so much. We’re changing furnace filters, fighting the woodpeckers opening knots in our cedar siding, and lamenting the impending ice age that is sure to come.
Have we learned nothing from the sixty-something winters we have survived? It’s as if we are embarking on new and unseen territory as fearsome and threatening as the surface of Jupiter. Is this why so many clear-thinking seniors have become ‘snowbirds’ and spend the harsh winter months in the balmy and temperate southern states?
Last year we spent Thanksgiving with our son and daughter-in-law in Washington, D.C. From there we drove to Englewood, Florida at the generous invitation of friends. We spent five delightful days there, but I believe that in some deep-seated way it altered my ability to experience winter.
We ran into some very cold and blustery weather en route home, and it was as if I had no winter coat and gloves. I believe that somehow my body had decided that Florida was right, and anything else was wrong. And while I’m not a Florida person in general, by the time we returned to St. Louis on December 8th, my body was inexorably altered. I endured last winter with incredible disdain for the cold and damp. Every 30° day felt like a 20° day; twenty felt like ten, and I pretty much felt like Sam McGee who needed to be ‘cremated’ just to defrost. I survived, without Sam McGee’s incineration, but my suffering was intensified by my newfound world view.
This year it will be different. We’re not visiting Florida till February, at which time it should feel like Paradise. By the time we come home, it will be time to put the snow shovels into dry dock and welcome the pollen. Meanwhile, I’m putting on a sweater and going out for a walk.