Memories of winters as a child include wet mittens, buckle up boots that never stayed buckled, and the endless amount of time getting into and out of snow pants. I was a snow construction engineer, moving snow, building walls and creatures, finding slopes to slide down, and clearing sidewalks up and down my block. I was always excited to have plows come by and assist me in creating towering hills at the end of our driveway so that I could dig out caves and settle into the cold quiet space.
I’ve never been able to skate very well, but I keep thinking maybe this year I’ll get out on the ice and give it another go. Broomball was a short-lived high school and college activity that fed my need to move around outside, but now has been limited to an occasional holiday family gathering event (when we really get organized). As I grew older, cross country skiing became my way to get outside actively. I’m still quite happy to be the first person out after a snowfall and clean up a bit, but I don’t tend to get as creative with the snow piling these days. While my children were growing up I really enjoyed our treks to Powderhorn Park’s scary sledding hills, as I tried to recreate the experiences that were captured on super 8 movies by my mom as my father would take me down hills that wouldn’t pass an insurance test.
I think it is this long history of trying to enjoy what winter is willing to offer us that allows me to keep content about a long dark January. Even a brisk walk can be a delight, listening to birds, catching sunlight reflections, and ice patterns. Sure, I worry more about what might happen if I were to fall on an ice patch, and I get a little tired of scraping frost off my car windows in the morning. But I carry a lot of gratefulness for a car that starts, a home that is heated, and workplace that is energy efficient, knowing that for many, those are challenges and a month like January is just uncomfortable.
For many years, January 19, the date of my father’s death, meant that much of January was consumed with sad and angry feelings. I’ve lived long enough to let January just be January and to continue to enjoy life each day of this cold dark month.