By Michael Strelcheck
When I was grocery shopping the other day, which happened to be the day that the temperature had dramatically plummeted from the low 60’s to the low 30’s, I happened to overhear a young boy telling his mother “I love winter in Wisconsin because . . . there’s no bugs!”
His comment, thankfully, got me laughing about the fact that winter had just arrived with a bang and I wasn’t feeling real happy about it. I guess I really hadn’t realized that it was December yet, perhaps hoping winter would forget to show up this year. You know the old fact that if you don’t acknowledge something – it doesn’t exist! But, the little whippersnapper’s comment woke me up and got me to thinking.
Having lived all my life in southern Wisconsin I have seen many a winter and one would think the advent of that season wouldn’t be a big deal. Back when I wasn’t much older than that youngster in Sentry’s deli department, I looked forward to the season because it provided all kinds of different activities you couldn’t do the rest of the year, like skiing, sledding, ice fishing, and snowball throwing. Back then, before global warming had eased our winter season, weather conditions were much more severe, yet my brothers and I would spend hour after hour out in the yard building snow-forts and snowmen, oblivious to the cold. On the weekends my dad would drop us off at the city’s huge skating ring (which was THE place to be) and we would ice skate all day until our ankles would become so tired that they would literally lie down on the ice. It was great. As I stood, waiting in line, transfixed by my memories, it was as if I was transported back in time. The feelings of those times warmed my spirit – until I was suddenly brought back to reality by the deli’s sales clerk behind the counter calling out, “Can I help you?”
As I bundled up and hurried out of the store with my pound and half of sliced turkey, I once again started to reflect upon my growing dislike of winter. “Why,” I thought, “have I become resistant to the season?” After all, one of the major reasons I choose to live here is because it is one of the few places that a person can experience all four seasons – in their full glory. As I thought about it, I felt I had to acknowledge to myself that I would be quite bored living where there weren’t strong seasonal changes. In fact, I couldn’t imagine how a person could live without the variety the seasons provide.
By the time I got home I decided that I should enlarge upon that youngster’s comment and make a list of the various reasons why I love living in Wisconsin’s winter – so that I would come to appreciate it once again – but from a more mature perspective. Granted, being older now, the season can create difficulties for driving and getting around, as well as staying warm, and of course we can’t forget the potential of the dreaded “cabin fever.” But those negatives can be offset by those things that are uniquely inspired by the snow and cold. Interestingly, as I wrote down my thoughts, I found that my perspective went from recognizing the beauty of the season outside to noticing some things that were beautiful as well inside. Here are a few of my favorite thoughts.
I love winter in Wisconsin because . . . it allows me to “walk on water”; after a heavy wet snow the trees are blanketed with layers of soft white, giving them a magical, almost mystical, appearance; when the sun shines the snow sparkles and twinkles; it inspires me to gather with others and relate; it helps me appreciate those who are important to me; it seems to change the pace of time, slowing it down, calming my nature; it gives me time to read that book that I’ve been putting off; it reminds me how wonderful it is to sit in front of a warm fire and relax; it gives me time to reflect upon how I feel; it brings me a deep sense of peace as I pull a fluffy comforter over me to sleep.
I found this exercise quite illuminating and if you would like, I invite you to add some of your favorite thoughts about the “beauty” that the winter season inspires in you.