Winter comes in gradually where I live. Early autumn brings hazel colored light, long shadows, blazing red and yellow leaves, and a crispness to the air that feels most welcome after a summer of heavy, sticky heat. By Thanksgiving, the ground is (hopefully) frozen and mornings arrive with a soft frost over the grass and bare branches. The sky, when it’s clear, turns a milky blue, and the chill of the wind strengthens it’s bite. By Christmas, we (usually) have snow, and the heaps of white reflect the glow of streetlights and helps to make the deep darkness of the evenings feel a bit more soft and gentle.
January is when the hammer drops. January is a cold, hard, beast of a month.
As a lifetime Minnesota girl, I’ve come to know this cycle well. Yet, only over the past few years have I started to learn how to relish the stillness and peace that come with winter, particularly after the glitter of the holidays has settled.
On the coldest days, when the sun is shining, it’s like you’ve never seen the anything so brilliant. Standing in it, drinking it up, is like pouring water down into the thirstiest part of your soul.
I got home from work a little early today, just in time to catch the sun as it crept out of the clouds on it’s way to a pink sunset. I live close enough to the Mississippi River to walk to it’s bank, one of my favorite places in the entire city, so I scrambled out the door to get there in time to soak up the last bits of light.
You know what I realized on my way?
The days are getting longer.
I didn’t need to scramble. I didn’t need to rush.
I lingered on the bridge, on the highest point of the arch, where the fierce river wind was whipping but the sunshine was strong. I stood there for awhile, taking turns looking down at the half-frozen water, upstream towards the city skyline, and back to the sun, whole and wide in the January sky.
I couldn’t have asked for anything more satisfying.
Back down by the bank of the river, shielded from the wind, I stood on the frozen spaces between the rocks. The ice creaked and moaned. The city sounds were muffled. The light had faded to a pale grey.
These moments are the generous, comforting, soft pockets that get me through the raw Minnesota winters.
Do you live where it’s cold during the winter months? What’s your tonic to the winter winds?