In the Bleak Midwinter


I am rebelling against winter.

I came home from work today with a pint of carmel-fudge-brownie ice cream and ate a ramekin portion underneath the covers in my warm bed. My electric blanket makes my bed the warmest place in the apartment. Some of my previous acts of winter spitefulness include walking around the apartment in flip flops or wearing coconut scented sunscreen in place of lotion to fool my senses into feeling summery when I’ve had enough with the cold.

But today, all I want is to be warm warm warm. And so I bask in my heated blanket bliss.

The lingering frigidity outdoors causes me to sink into bouts of slothfulness. God may as well have created me as a bear with a fully functioning hibernation instinct. I certainly am less human than average this time of year when the cold has begun to wear out its welcome. If it lasts much longer and we do indeed get the snow that’s predicted in next week’s forecast, I’m at risk for developing a moderate case of the blues.

I am by nature an active person. My favorite season is summer because my body is most happy when it can frolic in the comfortably temperate air with as much skin exposed as possible for the sake of feeling the air. My skin has loved sun since it was 14, when I worked my first summer in the cornfields of the Midwest. The 100+ degree climate combined with the humid sweat of the plants is actually quite tropical feeling from the laborer’s perspective that seems as if one is basically inside the corn plant. Walking. Walking. Walk through the row. Walk through another row. Walk through all the rows one by one all day. If you look up, you see floating bands of green leaves against a faraway blue and can smell the pollen as it wafts into the creases in your eyelids and pollinates your hairline.

I used to ride my bike all over my small town. Beside the railroad tracks, circling around neighborhoods, and riding out as far as my yellow belly would take me down the gravel roads. Once, at night, while riding with my best friend, we witnessed a double shooting star cascade across the sky. Isn’t it incredible how you can see the stars make their galactic explosions and never hear an audible decibel of sound to accompany the display? I had never seen a shooting star before and I haven’t since, but I still can’t get over how subtle and graceful are their journeys through life.

In winter, it’s difficult for me to generate the euphoric feeling of that temperate air whooshing around me, even when I sit really close to the space heater. I try to fawn over the first snowfall like some people like to do, and maybe if a friend drags me along I’ll go sledding with them and have a good time in my 7-layer snowsuit. In general, I stay indoors when it’s chilly outside. That weather makes me uncomfortable; makes me cringe; makes my muscles ache from tensing. The dry attempts to crack my lips and the skin on my knuckles, and I don’t like it. I can’t wear my flip flops and I can’t see my brightly colored toe nails except in the shower from far above and without corrective lenses, and so my life is more drab. Not to mention the outdoor wash of white, gray, brown, that turns to slush and mud as the season fades.

At first, I will still take walks. After a while, I can’t bear to spend the time outside cleaning my car, which has been tousled by my active lifestyle. The car, which is my only outdoor friend, gets sloppy and unkempt. It is affected by the cold, too. After some more time, I start to lose sight of all sorts of other small outdoor pleasures and my bones steal away indoors. Sometimes for long hours. Sometimes without moving.

The problem with rebelling against the winter by hiding under the covers with a bowl of ice cream is that I haven’t been able to bring myself to get out of bed since I arrived home at 5:30. It is now approximately 8:30 and I have come to the point when my mind tells me one thing but my body is thinking another. My mind says, “Get up and do something before it’s really time to fall asleep tonight.” The dishes have been waiting for me. There is a desk I could organize. There is a Denise Austen work out video I could do. That is the least appealing of all by now, because it requires the greatest amount of body motion through the cold air.

And I sink deeper into the memory foam. My face says “Pillow, you’ve never felt softer,” and the warm glow of the lamp on my nightstand beckons my eyelids to close, so dancing shadows and light can play on the screen of my shut eyes. Perhaps I am in a sugar coma. Perhaps I am lazy. Perhaps this is what it’s like to be a bear.


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