I hate being cold. Really. I would rather be too hot than too cold. We jokingly tease the Handy Man about keeping the wood stove at full blast, but secretly (well, not so secretly now) I love it. Last week it got really, really cold. We had a few mornings down in the single digits. Growing up in Maryland, that was normal for winter, but here in Georgia, those are extreme temperature. I would never cut it as a northern girl, and I am okay with that because I enjoy being able to feel my fingers and toes. The problem for us when it gets SO cold is that the wood stove is our sole source of heat, and it is difficult to keep the whole house warm when the outside temperature dips below the twenties.
I have had issues with my back for years…half my life, actually. About eighteen years ago, my chiropractor introduced me to the low tech innovation of the rice sock. The rice sock is wonderful for delivering warm, moist heat to the affected muscles or joints, and because it is rice in a sock, it conforms to the shape it needs to be to stay in place. A few minutes in the microwave gives lasting warmth. Last week, when it got so cold, my rice sock was performing double duty as my bed warmer. In the olden days, a warm brick or a hot water bottle was used; my rice sock is much softer and less prone to creating a soggy mess if it leaks. Of course, it was cold in the children’s rooms, too, and they quickly figured out that they could reap the benefits of a warm bed if they simply “borrowed” my rice sock. The Handy Man came to the rescue. He raided his sock drawer and found all those tube socks who had been abandoned by their mates. (The divorce rate for socks in our home is scandalous.) He then raided my rice stores (I only have at least a year’s supply of white rice) and, Voila!, the children all had their OWN rice socks.
This week, mother nature decided to give us warmer temperatures and SNOW. Not just once, but TWICE! The first snowfall gave us about 2 1/2 inches. Last night’s snowy gift was almost 6 inches. I used to hate the winter months…so dreary, so gray, so blah. In recent years, I have come to love February in Georgia. February is short, we usually get some kind of white precipitation, and spring is always right around the corner from February.
Growing up in Maryland, we often got snow. Sometimes we would get a foot or two of snow. We drove in it, we went to school in it, and we lived in it. My first driving lesson was in snow. It always melted fairly quickly, but we did have to live with it. Georgia is not equipped for snow or ice. It happens so seldom and melts so quickly that it really does not make sense to invest in the equipment needed for snow removal. This means that when it snows, everything here shuts down. Everything except those of us who homeschool our children. My children still have school, but they get lots of recess first. They also get snow cream for breakfast because milk and snow are food groups.
The marvelous thing about last night’s snow fall is that we got over five inches of it. This morning there was a hush on the world. But the sun was out, and the warmth of its rays was already releasing the uppermost branches of the trees from their snowy shackles. I walked down the road to see how the snow had transformed our world, and I marveled at the reverence of bowing trees, the silence of freshly fallen snow, and the chatter of the birds as they ventured forth into their temporarily white world. I wondered at the markings in the snow that had to have been the evidence of birds’ tail feathers brushing the top. I looked back at my footsteps and wondered at the depth of them, and I was thankful for the exercise that was making my heart beat harder and my sunglasses foggy from the exertion of slogging through those inches of snow.
The paved road had already been traveled, and it will likely be cleared by the sun’s rays by this afternoon. Our dirt road and driveway will be the last areas to clear, but in a few days, this beautiful blanket will be gone. In a few weeks it will be time to plant our garden.
There was a time, not so long ago, when I dreaded winter. I am learning to enjoy each season for its own merit. The spiritual lessons are not as easily won, but I am learning to find the joy in each season of life, too. The challenges don’t disappear. The need to be fully reliant on God does not go away, and that is a good thing. I want to enjoy the hush as well as the bustle. I want to live fully in the present so I can enjoy the small gifts of now, whether that be a warm rice sock at night, the hush of morning snow, or the laughter of my children as they come in from playing and demand hot cocoa. There is joy to be found everywhere, if only I am looking, even in February.