Winter’s Slow-Moving Tale
Just before Christmas, 2012, we received quite a helping of snow. Depending on how you feel about snow, news of an approaching storm can affect you in myriad ways. For me, I was delighted. Even though I’ve been a Midwesterner for over seven years, now, snow still excites me. But, my delight was halted once I heard the storm had been given a name (Draco). It was poised to drop not only snow, but wet, heavy snow — the kind which brought our whole world to a screeching halt in March 2012 when snow was falling more than two inches per hour.
Draco arrived in the morning and gathered strength throughout the day. By night, the world became a swirling mass of trees bending to the ground while the ground reached to the sky — wintry vertigo. Draco did bring snow, but he didn’t bring nearly as much as his unnamed predecessor. However, as he was so willing to point out, quality is just as important as quantity. As trees bowed and swayed in the vortex of wind and heavy snow, some eventually snapped, effectively throwing us back into the Dark Ages. Shortly afterward, while sitting in the dark reading by lamplight, it occurred to me that our Christmas Lunch — the one I’d been planning and looking forward to for quite some time — may not happen, this year.
Looking back, I’m ashamed to admit how depressed this made me. Goodness knows, we’re blessed to have electricity — that it’s something we can truly miss when it’s taken away — unlike so many people around the world who have never had it enough to miss it. Besides, as I noted back in March while under the thumb of a blizzard, being temporarily without electricity is oddly peaceful and liberating.
Still, now that I’m an adult, Christmas is a completely different kind of celebration than it was to me as a child. Now, rather than presents and decorations, the most treasured and enjoyable parts of the holiday season revolve around preparing food and sharing it with the people closest to me. My oven — though not as sparkly as the Christmas tree — is practically the heart of all Christmas celebrations and does not operate without electricity!
In late December, still heading toward the solstice, daylight was fleeting enough as it was. We missed the comfort and glow of electricity perhaps more than usual. On one of those cloudy days during the power outage, James and I took a walk just before evening, to look at the snow and get away from the darkened house for a little while.
Though I was sulking and a bit angry at winter, I was soon distracted from my funk by the all-encompassing beauty of winter’s mess. There’s a hush that falls over everything when it’s covered with more than a foot of snow — and yet sound travels faster in the cold air. Nature seems fast asleep and yet the slightest color or sound is that much sharper and poignant in winter.
In the few moments of wintry twilight, before night took hold, we were surrounded not by white but periwinkle. The sun was setting over the distant hills and the sky — still full of heavy clouds — was a study in blues and violets rather than grey. The surrounding forest with its shadows and bare limbs holding up heavy loads of snow, the snow-covered hillsides… even the air itself — all was colored in a bluish glow.
Though I’d like to be able say the joy of being surrounded by all of those colors was enough to completely lift me out of my sunken mood, even my love of all things blue and silvery wasn’t enough to completely elevate my spirits. I was grateful for our little walk that day, and for the brief moment of periwinkle skies, all the same. By the time I’d taken three photos, the colors were gone with hardly a trace left behind, and night had set in. You’ve got to be fast to catch wonder, sometimes.
Holding onto hope that power would be restored, I was not willing to call off our Christmas Lunch. Happily, just before it would’ve been too late and all the grocery stores would’ve been closed for the holiday, the lights suddenly came back on and bathed the house with light. I didn’t jump up and down, but I know my eyes were probably beaming.
Each year, my biggest Christmas wish is to spend the holiday with my beloved and be able to surround us with a festive menu. I was getting my wish, this year, after all.
If I’m not mistaken, this might’ve been the very first time I’ve prepared a holiday meal and have been 100% satisfied with the results. An unexpected Christmas gift! In particular, the Zuccotto Cake was tremendously fun to put together and was a mouthful of different, delicious tastes — like a party in every single bite. Raspberries, hazelnuts, toffee bits, whipped cream, chocolate, creme anglaise… soo much to love about this dessert!
And so, it’s January once again and the holidays are behind us. Much to the chagrin of the ancient Mayans and countless other naysayers, we’ve been granted another fresh, clean year — another chance. What better way to start the year than in sheer gratitude?
Recently, I was awakened from sleep in the middle of the night by moonlight beaming into the bedroom. The moon was not full, in fact it was waning toward its last quarter. Clear nights are a rarity in these parts during winter, so to my eyes it was as though a small sun had traveled across the sky. The deep, white snow all around echoed and amplified the dulcet light of a silver moon shining down from an endless sky of blue and twinkling stars. The shadows of naked trees ran on for miles with no foliage to stop them. In a startling moment of lucidity, I thought to myself, “If only we could all be like snow — reflecting the light all around us so that even in times of darkness it can be like daytime.”
Winter and its slow-moving tale are only with us for a brief time. Darkness and cold may keep us indoors more than we’d like, but that’s a mere blessing in disguise. While the sun peeks through and turns the sky into a kaleidoscope of colors and shapes and the wind howls just outside the window, what better time to make sketches of what we hope to shape this new year into? Under the snow lies a garden yet to be planted, fruits yet to ripen and amaze us.