Growing up in Ohio gave me a healthy appreciation for the winter months, and I have the fondest memories of playing in the snow in the backyard of my childhood home. I grew up in a very small town and the snow plow finished its runs in the church overflow parking lot, which happened to be right in back of our garage. Of course, this was very convenient for me and my siblings because it left an enormous snow pile behind. My dad would help us make tunnels and slides, and sometimes we would play out there until after dark. It felt like a whole different world, seeing the snow blow around under the glow of the street lamps, like being inside a human-sized snow globe.
I spent a lot of time at my grandparents' farm as a kid, too. I enjoyed sledding down their giant hill onto the pond. I went ice skating and sat around winter bonfires. I let my then rookie brother pull me around on an inner tube behind a tractor (not such a spectacular idea in hindsight). But what I loved most about those days was cozying up to the heat vent under my Gram’s kitchen sink, drinking homemade hot cocoa. My grandmother’s kitchen always felt so warm and safe, mainly because she was so full of warmth and optimism.
As I’ve grown older, I find myself less smitten with the cold days of winter. I still love the magic of snow, how it creates a quiet insulation on the earth, the way it magically falls in slow motion from the sky, the way it glistens when the sun is shining. But the sun doesn’t shine so much during an Ohio winter, and I miss seeing beautiful blue skies. Without the blue sky there’s no warmth from the sun, and without the warmth of the sun I sometimes find myself sliding down a slippery slope of gloom. I gotta say, this past winter felt like the worst. Maybe it was the exceptionally long & bleak winter months, or maybe it was because my Gram passed on in early December and I miss her warmth.
Either way, seasons change. The warmth has started to return along with the emergence of blue skies, and I couldn’t be more pleased. By the way, that’s a total Gram phrase. I would often chuckle to myself when I would hear her say she was pleased with this or that. That woman sure knew how to look on the bright side. She would be so pleased with the flowers in bloom. She would be so pleased that her goldfish survived another winter in the fish pond. She would be so pleased by the greening of the grass. And like me, she would be especially pleased when winter gave way to warmth.
This month would have been my Gram’s 100th birthday and it has me thinking about her a lot. I wonder if one year ago at this time she considered it might be her last spring in this life? That she might be celebrating her last May birthday? I mean, one must wonder these things when one is 99.
I hope you find yourself surrounded by whatever warms YOU this spring.