One thing I particularly enjoy about farm life is experiencing the seasons in their full glory. I love to see the world turn green in the spring and burn orange, yellow, and red in the fall. I love watching lightning bugs dance and smell honeysuckle in the air in the summer. I love how clear the night sky is in the winter.
If I’m being honest, though, I’m not a huge fan of winter. There are many reasons for this, and I could just as easily title a blog “Why I Hate Winter.” It’s not a super pleasant time of year to be outside, and of course when you have livestock outside is necessity, not a choice. The biggest reason I don’t enjoy it is this: I don’t like being cold. It’s kind of funny actually. In order to sleep at night, I have to have a fairly cold room. I can’t sleep at all if I’m hot and stuffy. (Bless whoever invented air conditioning and all of their decedents, too. I’m a pansy.) Yet during the day, when I’m not under blankets, I hate to be cold.
Here’s the thing about being hot vs being cold: Being hot is uncomfortable. Being cold is uncomfortable and painful. I don’t understand the hows and whys, but I know for sure that being cold is somehow painful. It makes your fingers hurt, it makes breathing hurt, and it makes any existing pain hurt worse (such as stubbing a cold toe, hitting a cold finger, etc). And somehow, no matter how many layers I put on, I can’t get comfortable outside when it’s bitter cold. Bitter cold roughly meaning under 30 degrees. . . because I’m a delicate southern flower, y’all. (*cough*pansy*cough*)
I’m a pansy of this, I kind of dread the winter months. And complain about them. And spend less time outside. And also complain.
I don’t want to be a complainer, though. Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s fine to vent about things from time to time — maybe even whine a little if ya feel like it. Life isn’t always sunshine and lollipops. However, when it comes to my general state of being, I want to be the kind of person who usually looks on the bright side. I want to fully appreciate the unique beauty of each season of the year instead of wishing the days away waiting for the next change of weather. The natural cycle of the earth really is a beautiful thing, after all.
So on that note. . .
Here are a few things I really like about winter:
Here in the south, we don’t get much snow. We do good to get one or two snow days where a couple of inches of the blessed white stuff falls from the sky and sticks around for a day or so before melting. As such, we only know how to do a few things in the snow: Call off school, make snow cream, go sleddin’, get our cars stuck (sometime in the ditch right by our own driveways — guilty), ride 4 wheelers up and down the road (sometimes pulling sleds behind them), build snowmen, make snow angels, and empty the store shelves of milk, eggs, and bread.
Snow to a southerner is a source of pure magic. Snow days as a child were the best. thing. ever. Even as an adult, I still get a little excited about snow. I like to watch it fall. I like to take a trip or two down the hill in a sled (or on an air mattress). I like to ride in the passenger seat of the car as we slip down the road, while a more experienced snow-driver takes the wheel. I like to take pictures. I like to pretend that it isn’t going to crust over into a slippery death trap on which I will bust my butt at least once. I like to pour sugar and milk in a bowl of snow and eat it.
Bottom line: Snow is the best.
The stars at night are big and bright — *clapclapclap* — deep in the heart of Tennessee. Here’s a fun fact for ya: if you’ve ever noticed that stars look brighter on a cold winter night, you’re not imagining things. The sky, assuming it isn’t cloudy, really does look brighter and clearer in the winter months. There are actually a couple of reasons for this. One has to do with how the earth is positioned in relation to our galaxy — in short, we actually see less stars in the winter, but less stars means less light which means the stars we are seeing come through brighter and more distinct. The other is that cold air can’t hold as much moisture as warm air (hello, dry winter skin), and that means that there is less haze in the sky to obstruct a clear view. I’m neither a meteorologist nor an astronomer, but hopefully that was a decent enough layman’s explanation to make a bit of sense.
One of these days I’m determined to figure out how to take a decent picture of the night sky, but I know that no picture could truly capture the beauty seen in real life.
Bottom line: I could stare at the winter stars for hours. They’re totally worth braving the cold night air to view.
The stuff water does when it meets cold air is just incredible. Of course you have the usual suspects: sleet, freezing rain, snow, icicles, frozen puddles and ponds, frost, maybe even some freezing fog here and there. The fact that two things — cold temperatures and water — can make such a vast array of different reactions and results is so crazy and amazing. It’s such a game of chance! Precipitation met with freezing temperatures at just slightly different timing makes the difference between a slicker’n’snot iced over world and a soft and fluffy marshmallow world. Amazing.
But it doesn’t even stop there. If you ever get the chance to see the stellar results of the combination of water + freezing temps + wind — do it. One of the coolest (no pun intended) sights I’ve seen is Reelfoot Lake after a windy winter day when the lake water has blow up into the knobby cedar trees, the wooden walkways, and the plant life all around the edges of the lake. I’ve never seen anything else like it. Then there’s also a phenomenon called a frost flower. Frost flowers happen when the moisture inside plants expands out of the plant as it freezes, creating ribbons of ice on the outside of the plant. They’re delicate and melt easily, so if you want to see them your best bet is to go searching early in the morning on a day in late fall or early winter when the temps are freezing but the ground hasn’t frozen.
Bottom Line: Ice is cool, in more ways than one.
We can’t talk about winter without also mentioning the extra downtime that comes with the colder weather. I’m a lazy girl at heart. I like lazy activities like reading, watching movies, writing, crochet, embroidery, coloring, baking,
eating, and other crafts. I find that in the summer I don’t hunker down to those kinds of tasks nearly as much as I do in the winter. To be honest I still feel that I waste a ton of time doing useless things when I could be doing and making and writing more, but the winter vibes put me in a greater mood for these tasks and I make a little headway. I will likely never catch up to my huge craft pile or long list of projects I want to complete, but ya can’t say I never tried.
In the winter, everything slows down. Most plants stop growing and most trees go dormant. Many types of animals hibernate until it gets warm again. Activities and events become a bare minimum, and life enters a kind of stasis. In the winter we mostly maintain rather than grow or increase — except for our waistline, that is. It’s a definite period of rest and recuperation if we allow ourselves to do so, and considering how fast paced most of our lives are, that is a definite gift.
Bottom Line: Downtime is a good time.
Yeah, there are some pretty special things that happen only in winter. As much as I don’t like being cold, I still have plenty to appreciate about the season. (And we didn’t even go over warm apple cider, comforting soup, sitting by the fire, Christmas, wearing cute layers, etc). Whether you’re a winter person or you would prefer your toes in the sand, I hope you find something worthwhile is these long cold months — even if you have to look a little harder to find it.