It is about this time every year that I start to reminisce. I think about fall, with its beautiful, muted, earthy colors. I remember hot, lazy summer days spent swimming or reading or napping and cooler nights huddled around bonfires. I envision the first bright blooms and brand new baby birds in spring.
In the north, where winter can — and often does — last six months of the year, the tendency for complacency takes hold. Lazing around indoors is not so much a luxury as a necessity when wind chills are in the double-digits below zero. The repetition of shoveling and scraping car windows clear makes each day seem longer than the last. Ice on sidewalks and snow on roadways cause travel to be treacherous. The biting wind, which steals your breath immediately upon stepping outside, chills deep to the bone and can cause lasting bodily harm.
What, then, is there to love about winter? For one thing, winter makes the world slow down. Driving conditions can deteriorate quickly, forcing traffic to a crawl. Walking safely can only be done at a tediously cautious pace. Being snowed in during a blizzard can make time seem to stand still. For another thing, winter brings people together. Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years holidays draw families home to celebrate joyfully. Helping a neighbor shovel his driveway or pulling someone out of a snowbank makes for lasting friendships. Building snowmen with a loved one is an enjoyable way to pass time, and warming up with a mug of hot chocolate topped with marshmallows makes for a memorable afternoon.
And finally, the most remarkable aspect of winter is, undeniably, its beauty (which is, admittedly, best enjoyed from inside while sipping cocoa topped with whipped cream). It can be serene and peaceful watching the snow fall from the sky in giant, fluffy flakes. When caught in just the right light, it can seem to sparkle and shimmer. Indeed, few things are as striking as a pine forest covered in fresh, glistening snow.
Until I move to a warmer climate, I will try to make the best of each North Dakota winter. To do so, I will need a few comfy sweaters and a whole lot of marshmallows. Peace and love.