Winter creeps up on me every year. There I am, minding my own business, enjoying the warmth of summer, then school starts. That's not too bad, though, because there's always something exciting about the beginning of a new school year. Plus, it's still nice outside and being able to grade exams in the yard with a glass of iced tea makes the task downright pleasant.
Then the weather starts getting cooler, but that's OK because the apple orchards open up for the season and I get to break out my Halloween decorations. After Halloween's over, Thanksgiving's around the corner, and there are exciting football games to watch every weekend. As I'm putting away turkey leftovers, I'm already planning what Christmas gifts I'll buy for friends and relatives. The holiday lights twinkle brightly and dispel the darkness of mid-December. Then Christmas is suddenly behind me, leaving a barren spot under the tree where presents used to be, but there's still New Year's Eve to look forward to.
On January 1, reality hits. The flurry of holidays and celebrations is over. The once-festive decorations look shabby. Credit card bills are long, sometimes stretching for two pages. And here in northern Illinois, we're staring down the barrel of at least two solid months of cold, dark mornings when ice is thick on windshields and sidewalks. My family's boots are by the door in a damp heap. My skin is dry and my hair is full of static. It's winter, and there are no more pleasant diversions on the horizon to take the sting out of this depressing season.
At this time of year, I try to appreciate the little things – like how much more spacious my house seems without a large evergreen tree rising up in the middle of the living room. I'm grateful for the warm, snuggly fleece top I got from my husband to help keep me warm during the upcoming months. A few lit candles in the evening make the house smell nice.
Still, these months are hard. During January and February, I always feel like I’m holding my breath, just waiting for spring to come. If I don't move around too much, maybe I won't feel the cold and the wind. And I certainly don't want to plan any travel or arrange social commitments for fear of having to leave the house if there's a snow or ice storm.
So I've battened down the hatches, put in a large supply of wine and books, and slipped into my fleece top and thermal socks. I keep telling myself that spring is coming. It always does. And in the meantime, if I can move my arms from under the pile of blankets, I'll use this hibernation time to get some writing done. I'll come out again when the temperature rises to a level that's suitable for human life. Or when the RT Convention happens in Orlando this coming April. Whichever comes first. Until then, keep warm, everybody!