Wednesday, January 13, 2010


"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.)


gma said...

Cometh to see roses on the vine and walkth barefoot through the grass. No reason to stayth in a place so dreary. Az is lovely right now!
Totally serious!

JoAnn ( Scene Through My Eyes) said...

Great post - I feeleth the winter in my bones whilst reading it. Thous doeth a grand job of telling of winter!!!

But I am so glad that we don't have that kind of winter - I just don't think I could bear it - not even for one winter. Stay warm - and don't go out on those sidewalks unless you must!!!!

Rowan said...

Lovely post Julie:) I fortunately don't have problems with SAD but I confess I've had enough of the snow and freezing temperatures now, I'm spending a lot of time doing family history while the weather is like this, happpily Ancestry have put huge numbers of London parish registers online and my DH's main line of ancestors were considerate enough to live within the square mile of the City of London for several generations so I can research at home with occasionals forays onto the glass like pavements to take B Baggins down to the river. I'm already planning a Spring trip to London to photograph some of the churches etc:) Am also getting sidetracked by some of London's history - it's a fascvionating place.

Autumn Leaves said...

True words about the comforts of winter, Julie. I think the comforts outweigh the bad parts of winter, making me rather enjoy it quite a bit.

Janet said...

I can understand your feelings about winter. I don't think I could do it anymore. I'm completely spoiled and I admit it! I wish I had some good advice for you but other than Gemma's idea to visit someplace warm I don't know what to tell you. Stay warm, enjoy your hot chocolate, and good books and dream of spring!

Lila Rostenberg said...

Bloggin helps! ( as long as we don't lose electric power!)

You have the right idea about reading..I find I have to get up and move...maybe walk up and down some stairs every 45 minutes or so, or I become very stiff from sitting.
Gentle yoga and stretches too.
Lots of tea and warm drinks!

Shopgirl said...

My daughter Jenny is ready for winter to end as soon as we have had Thankgiving and Christmas. I do not mind winter really. I do not like it when it gets around zero, but for the most part I am good with it. No one wants to be too cold or too hot. It was a big change for me after living so close to the beach in California...shorts year round. Today the wind is blowing off the snow and it is cold..
Arney has a real problem with cloudy days.
Your love of books is a really good thing. I would get books that took me to warm places, and watch movies that make me laugh...winter will be over soon.
I love you, Mary

Joyce said...

Hi Julie.....
Well, winter sounds very lovely and a bit "dispairing" as well.

Just know that after the long hard winters, come the floods. Whoops! I mean the flowers and the green grass and the warmth of summer.

I know a tad about the SAD thing. And you can take "SAM-E" it's a good vitamin and they use it for that disorder. It's easy to find...Walmart/Sams. It will help you as well as getting some sunshine when you can. Do you know of anyone that has one of those natural sun lamps? I have one in my help there now is that? But someone up there has to have one.

I think I would spend my bed. Or at the Barnes and Noble like you and drink some Chai Latte Tea and read some books and magazines. Thankfully you all have one of those in your town.
Becareful on the ice.....

I'm like Rowan...I've been working on my family history and have FINISHED it pretty much.
I have TWO ancesters that were related to Charlemagne of all people. Shocking I know. HA!

Now I'm working on my husband's people and they aren't so easy or fun to find....blah. I am roadblocked at the moment.

Hang in there...I'm thinking of you.
Be blessed....

Colleen - the AmAzINg Mrs. B said...

Ah, but spring will come and we will rejoyce once again! It's good to be back and reading your lovely blog, my friend!

Anonymous said...

The reason you like winter is because you're a writer! I've noticed that with writers. But, I'm with you!!

Since you love to read, have you ever read an older book,
My Glimpse of Eternity by Betty Malz? It's a true story and I know people who love fiction don't read true stories(Why is that?)... but I think it reads like a novel! It's such a good book, I buy used copies all the time to give to people.

I enjoyed stopping by and reading your beautiful winter descriptions. It made me wish spring would never come!

Anonymous said...

P.S. On my way out of your blog, I read the beginning of your entry that you do not like winter! Oh dear! You had me fooled with your cozy descriptions of flannel pajamas, hot chocolate and icy branches. In Texas we never see the beauty of ice or snow and I envy you!! I fight bitterness at Christmastime when people put up Christmas trees and lights and it feels sticky and humid outside. Do you know how depressing it is to kill a mosquito in the month of December? I see now you don't feel the way I do about winter but maybe if you stayed down here a while you would see things differently. ha.