Six Degrees of Hibernation

Winter in Michigan is sheer monotony. Cold and grey. Grey and cold. Sometimes it’s frigid and white. And white and frigid. Feels like living in an Ansel Adams photograph but more negative. But somehow this year the season is passing and I’m nowhere near as crazed as I was last year for it to end. How have I made peace with this least favorite season?

1. I strive to find color in this grey and white world. Even if it’s a stop sign or the orange lollypops of snow blower reflectors. Or the bright blue of the recycling bins. I’ve made it my business to see past winter’s monochromatic palette.

2. Living so close to the Central Time Zone means the days begin to lengthen fairly quickly. The handful of minutes that accumulate in the wake of the winter solstice translate into more daylight. More daylight, more happy. More daylight, better spirits. Lengthening days — winter solace.

3. Soup. I’ve gotten into making hearty and nourishing soups. Anything goes soups. Clean out the vegetable bin soups. Noodles and beans soups. As long as they’re hot and filled with good things to eat, soups are getting me through.

4. Hot chocolate. With whipped cream. Not too often and not too much but my jeans aren’t going to fit any worse for this bit of comforting warmth every now and then.

5. Dropping the guilt that I’m not into winter sports. I don’t care if I “just wear the right clothes” I will enjoy it. I don’t want to shiver. I don’t want the wind blasting my cheeks. I don’t want to put on seventeen layers to walk stiff legged throughout the neighborhood, alert for icy patches that will land me on my fanny faster than you can say Frosty the Snowman. I’ll stay in, thank you and do my yoga, get on my treadmill and read about Tahiti.

6. I know it will end. It’s already late January. There is light at the end of this tunnel. Her name is Spring. And she will arrive.

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10 thoughts on “Six Degrees of Hibernation

  1. Debra

    Martin’s photo. I’ll pass along your praise. Come on down. I’ll bundle up, we’ll walk and I’ll give you cocoa at the end!

  2. Cindy L

    Debra, I second everything you said, right down to the winter sports! After all these years of living in Michigan, I’ve learned to find comfort in many of the things on your list, especially making soup. (In fact, I am working on a column about making soup, right now, and I am also making a crockpot of soup, right now.) You gotta be good to yourself on these cold days… it helps to have a favorite chair with a good throw blanket and a pile of books, too.

  3. Judi A.

    The looooong freezing cold, dreary months of Michigan winters is what I do not miss about Michigan! I can appreciate the beauty of a sparkly new fallen snow, but…. When people here exclaim to me “Oh, I LOVE snow!” I often will respond, “Because you haven’t ever lived with it for 5-6 long months.” Also, when it’s 35-45 degrees out and women appear in their down or long fur coats, complaining “It’s sooo cold!” I usually think “You don’t know cold!” When I lived in MI, I would tell those that tried to get me out doors that my idea of a “winter sport” is a cozy warm fire in the fireplace, a snuggly warm afghan, a pot of coffee and a good book! 🙂 We do miss the long daylight days of MI! Still doesn’t seem right that it should be totally dark at 8:00pm in the middle of summer. I could so relate to all you said and had to smile, and even chuckle, at some of your comments. Hang in there – it will end and eventually you’ll be enjoying the beauty of a MI spring (hope it’s not a really rainy one). 🙂

  4. Debra

    Hi Cindy and Judi, Sunflowers are working, too. I have a vase of them in the kitchen and they lend a welcome brightness every time I step in the door.
    And it’s a pretty good trade-off — summer sunlight till nearly 10 PM. Judi, yours was the 600th comment. Thank you to one and all for being a part of this blog. Stay warm!

  5. Kay Osborn

    Think our old neighborhood looks beautiful, but I understand your feelings totally. I guess winter is one of the reasons we moved south. No snow here for sure…but the cold has been a problem this year, as you know. No one from the north seems to be sympathetic, however.

  6. brooklyn gary

    For your wintertime blues of grey and white, I would suggest you add to your liquid “solutions” list a hearty glass of spirits. Washington had rum, the Hillbillies corn mash, the French Cognac, and the Russians Vodka to get them through the ruggedness of a disfavored winter. I must caution to do so conservatively, lest the visions of Ansel Adams morph into the surrealistic world of Salvador Dali, and your dreams of Tahiti become too strong hallucinations resulting in you dancing around outside, on your front lawn, in your shorts. There’s more than just your cheeks that can freeze. Cheers.

  7. Debra

    Ah, Brooklyn Gary, did I forget to mention the splash of kahlua that perks up the hot cocoa? Not too much. Ansel is safe.

    Kay, nah, I don’t think you all will get much sympathy from the northerners!

    Helene, this member of your tribe is beginning to think Florida might not be too bad for a few weeks….West Coast!

  8. Dondra Maney

    Here I am, southern girl living in central Ohio, reading this marvelous reflection of yours. I called up a friend–whose husband is from MI–to share your beautiful words. We both think you are so very clever to notice the color of a stop sign or a construction cone. Now that we have that concept firmly planted, we may actually make it through ’til spring, too. But, having said that, Debra, what really keeps me moving with hope toward spring is your sweet story about the pink dogwood outside your daughter’s bedroom window in NC. Maybe you need to post it again so that your readers can remember the pink promises that spring will deliver in just a few more weeks. (And, BTW, I have reached the point now that I hate ALL of my clothes. I’m thinking something cotton and sleeveless and fun to raise my level of sartorial enthusiasm here in the midwest. Yucky snow boots!!!!)

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