The warm yellow tulips rise defiantly from a clear vase set on a green tablecloth on my dining room table. It’s a talisman giving me hope that spring is on the way
The warm yellow tulips rise defiantly from a clear vase set on a green tablecloth on my dining room table.
It’s a talisman giving me hope that spring is on the way
Christmas always helps us through the first weeks of winter. We are too busy buying gifts, listening to carols, marveling in the lights and decorations. Snow and ice are just another glistening trimmings of the season. And there are gifts of new coats, scarves and mittens to cope with the cold.
Now that the holidays are gone, there’s nothing to look forward to in the coming frigid weeks but defrosting your car each morning, wet cold shoes and gray skies. In the local news, there’ll also be increasingly grim talk of tightening municipal budgets and the political stirrings of town elections.
It’s time to find some coping mechanisms for these winter days.
You can choose to embrace the weather. This is easier said than done and easiest if you are a skier, snowboarder or ice skater. I, alas, am none of the above.
Instead, I have been looking to find small, hopeful pleasures on cold gray days.
My best yet has been discovering my African violets in bloom again. Quite a feat for someone as horticulturally challenged as myself. The sight of those deep blue petals rising where dry withered ones were so recently is my tiny glimpse of spring to come.
I’ve also taken up feeding the birds. After one of the last storms we (my cat, Samantha, and I) heard chirping outside the front window. (Well, actually the cat heard it first). How awful to be a bird in that weather. I immediately began saving the crusts of my daughter’s sandwiches and tossed them out the door to a rhododendron bush outside the living room window.
My offering has been met with great enthusiasm by the birds. I’ve since supplemented my offering with a suet feeder and seeds. Samantha and I enjoy watching the birds in the mornings. (Though probably for very different reasons.) The earlier I peek, the more interesting varieties I can spy. Maybe I’ll eventually know and recognize the sparrows from the woodpeckers.
One thing I found I missed about the Christmas season is the anticipation of cards and packages in the mail. So when browsing the countless retail e-mails advertising post-holiday sales, it struck me — why not order something else. So I ordered some calendars, then a shirt on sale. I kept it simple. January, the month after Christmas, is always a closely budgeted one for most of us. It was fun to again await a package each day that wasn’t a bill or an advertisement.
Another way to attract more enjoyable mail is send some yourself. Drop a letter (yes an actual paper one with stamp attached) or even a postcard to a friend. Even if you don’t get an answer, you’ve brightened someone else’s winter day. A belated newsy Christmas letter from cousins in California enlivened a January day in our house.
Combat the days of white with visions of green. One very long stormy winter I took to looking up vacation packages on Expedia and Travelocity to anywhere warm – Hawaii, the Caribbean, Arizona. We had no plans to take any such trip, but I found pleasure in browsing vicariously through luxurious hotel rooms on tropical beaches.
Think spring with the help of some gardening catalogs. This advice was given to me from a local garden club member once. Spend the winter months browsing through seed catalogs and plotting your beds. The colorful images of purple phlox and cherry tomatoes alone can make it easier to face the slush in the supermarket parking lots.
Whatever you do, don’t lose hope. Rejoice in the sunny days even if they are still cold ones. Soon again those days will warm our skin and our hearts.
Donna Whitehead is editor of the Mansfield News, Easton Journal and Norton Mirror. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 508 967-3510.