'Tis right around the corner now!
Though often throughout winter we curse the weather and question why we live in the wilds of the north, we also long for the bragging rights of being hardy winter survivors. Weather consumes our conversations and dictates our plans, sometimes capsizing the latter.
Ah, but true Northerners, we also see the beauty of a world covered in white with only glistening, silver-tipped hues of blue and gray. We relax in the arms of a weather that provides brief moments of respite from the whirl of the outside world. We use winter's inclement weather as a time to reflect on life in a way that the rest of the world can not. We play and recreate in a way Southerners can't imagine (or can't imagine enjoying anyway) as we ice fish, snow mobile, snow shoe, sled, ski and snowball fight. Yes, the pleasures of Old Man Winter!
Being people who still live close to the land and in a culture infused with the agriculture of crops and livestock, we also appreciate the miracle of the earth's regenerative process during winter.
Perhaps though part of the very glory of winter are the diversions we make from it. Some leave for months but most of us just make week-long escapes. Hearing about everyone's vacations is part of what sustains us in the polar cold. Actually there was a week or two in January when it seemed like everyone I spoke to was on their way out of town and I wondered who'd remain to 'turn off the lights'.
I was one of the fortunate this winter to make a week-long escape to an area of sun and warmth. A good friend and I flew to Florida and took a seven-day Caribbean cruise that we'd spent nine months planning, dreaming about and saving for. It was a most welcome break during one of the coldest weeks our area experiences this year.
This cruise was different than ones I'd been on in the past as it was a private charter from the publishing company 'Hay House'. Onboard were eight of their top self-improvement/inspirational/spiritual genre authors and each gave a 2-hour seminar followed by book signings and special onboard bookstore deals. For an avid reader such as myself it was an excellent opportunity and I enjoyed hearing from each author. Of course, the cruise was also filled with the prerequisite mega dining experience, formal dress wear, sunbathing by the pool and exotic ports for amazing excursions.
Maybe I felt a new-found freedom since I no longer have dependent children at home but I chose a few 'riskier' excursions than in the past. I'm proud to say that I'm now a veteran zip-liner and parasaileror maybe I should just say I'm a survivor, but they sure were fun!
With ports in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, St. Maarten, Puerto Rico, and Half Moon Cay in the Bahamas, it was a sun-filled, blissful week with my greatest decision being which delectable choice to make from the menu. Of course, returning from the sun soaked trip was tempered by the dire cold and hiney-deep snow banks.
Part of the experience was also the gratitude for a great traveling partner, those who watched over my home, cared for my dog, cleaned out my driveway prior to my return, etc. Without good friends and neighbors I would certainly never survive winter!
Valentine's Day follows the long, cold artic blast we call January to warm our hearts and fill our minds with all those we love. And the best part of that heart-filled holiday is that from there we can see easily to Saint Patrick's Day!
While the rest of the world awaits spring on March 20th, Emmetsburg knows it actually comes a few days earlier around here. March 17th, greens in the 1,000-shades of Ireland arrive to our town to celebrate our release from winter. Weather on St. Pat's Day hardly even matters except whether the horses can navigate the parade route, because regardless of the forecast, we throw open the doors of town and cheerfully set out the 'Welcome' mats. People from all over take a hiatus from winter hibernating and arrive in droves to celebrate with the Irish clan they were born into or the clan they whimsically create for themselves, all displaying the green shades that lure Spring from the earth a few days earlyat least in our hearts and minds.
So go ahead, it's time, prepare for returning birds, start seeds for your gardens, shop for prom dresses and dream of lazy days of summer. But first, prepare your green and be ready to join in Emmetsburg's Saint Patrick's Day Celebration as we welcome Spring and the conquering of another long, cold winter!