Saturday, March 1, 2014

Being in the Now (even when the now is 1 degree)


I know, "Live in the present," "Be in the now," "Enjoy today," .... when you're  living in the middle of the Polar Vortex you're thinking blah, blah, blah, right?!

'Cuz when the air hurts your skin, and every step has you worrying you're gonna break your neck fallin' on the ice, and everyone keeps going round and round with cold and flu season.... um, it doesn't make you enjoy the present. It does not feel like a present. It feels like that gift you'd like to return. Immediately. For another season. Balmy summer. Mild spring. Perfect autumn. Anything but the now. Which is midwinter in Massachusetts.

But then there's me. How can I abandon my love, my madly passionately in love with true love, the state of Massachusetts, when it is in one it's four perfect seasons?! Perfect. Perfectly imperfect? Well, not to sound Pollyana'ish, but I am remembering to appreciate the good sides of winter. Yes, even in March, when it is ONE degree when I walk out into our yard to let out our doggies at 6 am. No need for an -s for degrees. Just degree. Singular.

Winter, you ask? What are the "positives" of winter? The cold? The high heating bills? The constant shoveling and snowblowering and salting the driveway?

Yes, even with my dry skin and split finger skin and humidifiers ablazing, I am still appreciating the winter in Massachusetts.  I know I may be in the minority.

And I probably don't love winter for the same reasons some other people do. Some people love the winter because it gives them the opportunity to go skiing or snowboarding every weekend.

My appreciation for this season is for the lack of action, the inaction.

Don't get me wrong, I adore the fresh green newness of spring. I embrace our family getting out of the house and back into outdoor sports. And I love the heat of summer, the pool, wearing less clothes, the freeness to be outdoors all the day and night. And my favorite season of course is autumn, the brisk air requiring a sweater while we go apple picking and pumpkin picking and through the corn maze and trick-or-treating.

What I love about all those seasons is the opposite of why I love winter.

Those seasons are full of hustle and bustle and activity, which is fun and great, but it also makes me appreciate winter's inactivity.

Of course we still go sledding and walk the dogs daily and exercise, but the coldness of winter invites us inside, to be cozy and warm. The interiority of the cold season is what I enjoy. The fire in the fireplace, board games, reading books by the fire, drawing, playing, baking, cooking, all of these are what makes this season so wonderful for me to share with my family.

And I often admit to my friends' who can't get enough of summer that I actually find the intense humid heat here exhausting. I find myself saying that we wait all winter for summer to arrive to be able to spend so much time outdoors, and then are reminded of the reality of summer: the intense heat, the suffocating humidity, the mosquitoes, the deer ticks. Just when you think "Ah, a summer evening, I'm going to go enjoy my lemonade in the yard," you are attacked my mosquitoes, find a deer tick on your leg and flee inside the house. Ugh. Exhausting. As much as I always thought of myself as a beach lover when I was growing up, spending all my summers on the beach in Malibu, I've realized now that I can get tired of the heat on the beach very quickly, even with an umbrella and thirst quenching drinks and the frosty Atlantic to cool me off.

What?! Blasphemy! Who does not adore every single millisecond of everyday at the beach?! This is how I feel when I admit my feelings to winter weary East Coast friends. Which I understand. I do. I like to defrost my frozen bones as much as the next New Englander.

But for me there are positives to life outdoors during winter here. A big chunk of my life is spent walking my two large dogs. During winter, I find the fresh cold air to be invigorating. It feels wonderful to get big lungfuls of cold air while I walk my dogs everyday.

So, even while I am wincing when my skin hurts walking my dogs on single digit winter days, I remind myself to stop and enjoy the beauty that surrounds me. I continue to feel so grateful to live where I live. My yard and this neighborhood makes me feel as if I live in Tahoe, which for this California native is one of my favorite beautiful outdoor locations. The trees and the clear blue sky of winter here inspires me to take off my glove (ouch!) (yes, I gotta get a pair of those genius gloves that allows you to have them on while touching the iphone screen!), and take photos of all around me, everyday.

That blue sky?! Are you KIDDING ME NOW?!!!

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