"BY THE FIRESIDE" by Henry Salem Hubbel
I'm going to come right out and admit that I purloined the painting above and the poem below from my blogging friend Rowan in England ("Circle of the Year" on my sidebar). Both come straight from her recent post.
"Oh Winter! ruler of th’ inverted year,
Thy scatter’d hair with sleet like ashes fill’d,
Thy breath congeal’d upon thy lips, thy cheeks
Fring’d with a beard made white with other snows
Than those of age; thy forehead wrapt in clouds,
A leafless branch thy sceptre, and thy throne
A sliding car, indebted to no wheels,
But urg’d by storms along its slipp’ry way;
I love thee, all unlovely as thou seem’st,
And dreaded as thou art! Thou hold’st the sun
A pris’ner in the yet undawning East,
Short’ning his journey between morn and noon,
And hurrying him, impatient of his stay,
Down to the rosy West; but kindly still
Compensating his loss with added hours
Of social converse and instructive ease,
And gathering at short notice, in one group,
The family dispers’d, and fixing thought,
Not less dispers’d by day-light and its cares.
I crown thee King of intimate delights,
Fire-side enjoyments, home-born happiness,
And all the comforts that the lowly roof
Of undisturb’d retirement, and the hours
Of long uninterrupted evening, know.
~ William Cowper
I've said it before - winter is difficult for me. My SAD (seasonal affective disorder) begins to descend upon me in November (sometimes even October). It retreats in December, pushed back by Christmas Everywhere with its family gatherings, colored lights glowing against the snow, carols, parties and sundry other entertainments, lovely foods and general merriment.
But it comes raging back in January along with the Alberta Clippers pushing and howling out of the Great White North. Certainly, I do admire winter less than William Cowper, who loved it "all unlovely as thou seem’st, And dreaded as thou art."
I loveth thee not, winter. I loveth not the refusal of cars to start, nor being snowbound, nor the policeman at the door saying our vehicle will be towed if not moved. I loveth not the cost of a new battery, nor nump, nipped cheeks, nor the note from the postman saying "Thou must shovel thy sidewalks".
I loveth not the dread'd cabin fever, nor the freezing of the nostril hairs at -30 degrees, nor the knuckle-whitening drives through blizzards. I loveth not the heart-bursting exertion of pushing cars out of snowdrifts, nor the attenuat'd days, nor my gnashings and wailings of despair in the dark morns.
I loveth not the patio door jamm'd with snow, nor the walking across the ice like unto a Chinese lady with bound feet, nor the monstrous fuel bill. I loveth not the waiting for a frigid car to warm up, nor looking like the Michelin Man in coat, underlayers, boots, hats, gloves, scarves.
I loveth not my dry scaly hands, nor snifflings and sneezings and hackings, nor frozen wet feet.
But Mr. Cowper, thou art right about winter being The King of Intimate Delights. So to copeth with raw, most unkind winter, I have been seeking out thy fire-side enjoyments and home-born happiness, and all the comforts of my lowly roof.
I ease my feet into cashmere socks. I wear said socks to bed. I drink spiced tea or hot chocolate with marshmallows. I fuel my body with rib-sticking oatmeal and brown sugar. I savor soups of many flavors. We sup on hearty chili, stews and roasts. I wrap up in afghans and throws. I light candles to create warm pools of light.
For entertainment if confined to home - alone - I choose quality music (classical) and reject network TV for quality DVDs. (However, I will be traveling to the island of "Lost" in February.)
I watch the black-capped chickadees climb up and down our grey-barked elm. I snuggle up to my little doggy furnace, Gracie. I nurse one venti mocha at Barnes and Noble. I measure the slow lengthening of days.
I admire the tracery of Jack Frost on the windows (a sign of most extreme weather). I glory in frost-covered trees against the blue sky. I sift and toss papers at my leisure. I sort and throw, or set aside to sell on e-Bay. I go shopping in the basement (things that have been put away for a few years take on a fresh, new life.)
I wear warm flannel jammies all day Sunday, bringing books and newspapers to the comforter-clad bed. I take calcium and Vitamin D. I try to get at least a bit of sun a day. I read and read, and read some more. I write book reviews and posts.
I take great joy in the knowledge that the weather will be in the 30s and 40s for the next seven days at least!
Any more tips for not just getting through winter but enjoying it? Yes, I should go to the mall and walk, but I seldom have the use of my car these days, and walking on slippery sidewalks is not advised for a person who has fallen twice on dry sidewalks and injured herself (badly bruised knee and fractured elbow.)