We’re well enough into spring to say with finality that winter is over, although remnants of the long, cold and snowy season will likely linger for a while. On one of the warmer days in the past week I sat on my back deck with my morning coffee and realized there are things about winter I am going to miss. Most folks can’t wait to say goodbye to the cold and nearly 10 feet of snow we endured during the winter, but I found myself lamenting the changing seasons.
For one thing, my long days of watching the snow pile up are over, and there will be no more going to the shed for a wagon-load of firewood. Bringing in wood is actually a pleasurable endeavor because it gets me outside, gives me something to do and each trip provides a week’s worth of warmth, which is a pleasure all its own.
Truth be told, my little Resolute wood stove, a Vermont Castings original, becomes my companion, my best friend and my biggest source of entertainment during the winter months. I invariably start my day by building a quick fire out of kindling and a few small sticks, and while that begins to roar I brew a pot of tea or coffee. By the time I get back to the stove the coals are deep and hot, ready for me to toss in a few bigger sticks.
I spend the first hour of the day sitting in my Cracker Barrel rocker watching the fire take off, enjoying the fact that I am toasty warm despite the cold, wind and snow that besieges my windows just a few feet away.
I will usually find something constructive to do for a few hours, and then head back to the stove to put on more wood, perhaps read or enjoy another cup of tea. This back-and-forth ritual goes on all day and most of the night, when I cozy up to the fire with a good book or magazine for the remainder of the evening. I’ll stoke the stove and close it up for the night just before bedtime, and in the morning the game begins again. I thoroughly enjoy the ambience of a wood fire and truly miss it when warm weather comes and the stove sits idle all summer.
Another aspect of winter I have come to enjoy is my collection of winter clothes. I like my wool pants and sweatshirts, my flannel shirts and chamois jackets, and hate to put them away after the temperatures climb into and stay in the 60s. I especially enjoy wearing my “old man” wool sweaters, which keep me warm on those rare winter days when I choose to let the wood stove go our during the day so I can shovel out the ashes.
I find it much easier to stay warm in winter than I do keeping cool in summer even though I have an air conditioner in the bedroom office. During the hottest summer days it can be sweltering in the rest of the house and I have yet to find a way to keep cool during the heat of July and August. Finding shade can be a challenge at certain times of the day and when I’m not drenched in sweat I’m beleaguered by mosquitoes, black flies or no-see-ums. Give me winter any time!
Another thing I’ll miss about winter is the absolute quiet that prevails during and after a storm. Beautiful as well as peaceful and serene, I often go into the woods and stand there soaking up the soothing vibes of a forest covered in snow. In summer the only quiet time is from about 2 a.m. till dawn. Lately the pop and boom of fireworks reverberate well into the night, and in the morning I’ll hear the steady drone of dump trucks, motorcycles and other noisy machinery. There always seems to be a chainsaw or excavator roaring in the distance and almost hourly someone drives by in a car that’s in serious need of a muffler. Some people enjoy loud, relentless noise but after a long, silent winter the incessant growl of small engines and machinery seem especially intrusive.
The wild things, too, seem to sense the change and are not overly fond of daytime noises, either. My backyard critters are active near the feeders non-stop in winter but in summer they only come around at dawn and again at dusk, when things are relatively quiet and settled. Human activity is disconcerting to the birds and animals at any time but the cacophony of summer’s manmade noise keeps them on edge throughout the day. Any loud bang, crash or thump will send them flying for the woods and some species, such as doves, cardinals or bluebirds, won’t return to the yard for hours after being spooked.
I must say that I even enjoy my winter snowstorm routine. I clean off the roof edges first (no sense in shoveling twice!), and take a break. Next I shovel a path to the bird feeders – and take a break for tea by the stove. Nest it’s on to the side porch (followed by a break) and then the front porch (and another break). I must admit that my breaks tend to last longer than my bursts of shoveling but as soon as it seems like work I stop and . . . take a break. During the worst storm this winter it took me an hour to complete all my snow removal duties but that did not include about two hours of breaks! I do my summer mowing and weed whacking at about the same pace. The pay is the same so why rush it?
I look forward to spring and summer for a variety of reasons including trout fishing, gardening and canoeing. In fact, I try to make the most of every season of the year, although it’s hard to see the positive side of “mud time,” which is coming up soon. Luckily, this sloppy period passes quickly. We can all rejoice in the fact that mud season only lasts a few days. Imagine six months of that!