Friday, March 7, 2014


If you’ve been anywhere near New England this winter, you’ve been cold. You’ve been chilly, freezing, frigid.  It’s made other people cool, icy, bitter, closed up.

The landscape is white, gray and black. The sky tries to be blue, but gives up around 10 am and goes back to light gray. The sun makes a similar attempt; but also gives up and heads back to Florida.   People are starting to work the excuse, “it’s been a long winter” into their reasons for not getting things done, not getting enough exercise or simply not smiling. And it’s true--there’s nowhere to go to do anything. (Fine. I could join a gym. Whatever.) Did I mention it is also making people cranky?

Then, the other day when I was babysitting for Luca, I had had enough. I was tired of being grouchy and immobile. Apparently Luca was, too. When I got him dressed, he didn’t like the corduroy pants, he didn’t like the navy pullover. None of the clothes I put on him felt good, or so he indicated in his very clear two-year-old way: crying. He didn’t want to do anything but play with the puzzle game on my phone. But I wanted my phone. He’d taken to walking around the house saying, “I can’t do this” and holding his little face in his cupped hands. I know how he felt. It got to the point where I was about to serve up the merlot, the Lindt chocolate truffles and watch soaps for the rest of the day...for both of us. (Don’t be silly. I wasn’t going to give Luca wine. There wouldn’t have been enough for me.)  We had to get outside. Now.

Luca was up for the idea. The temperature was hovering around 30 degrees and the sun was doing its usual half-assed attempt at shining, but there were enough passages through the glaciers of frozen-solid  snow that we could at least go for a little walk and get some fresh air.

At first he wouldn’t let me put on his jacket. Or anything. We weren’t going to actually be playing in the snow, just walking around next to it, so I skipped the snow pants and snow coat and put on his fleece jacket, hat and gloves. He didn’t let me put on his boots, either; I’d put one on and he’d kick it off as I got the other one on.  I recognized the problem - in March, one gets tired of putting on all the equipment just to go out the door. I skipped the boots, too, and grabbed his sneakers. 

Then we were outside. We breathed in the fresh air and walked down the driveway, skirting the bunches of ice and snow that escaped the plow and shovel. We made our way to the back gate and wrestled it open where there is a thin, shoveled path to the back door. Luca held on to me, but I was afraid if I went down, I’d take him with me so I kind of shoved him ahead of me while keeping a tight grip on his jacket, slipping and sliding the whole way.  The cleared off space by the back door is simply an uncovered flagstone, about 2 feet by maybe 3 feet.
“It’s nice out here!” Luca said and a smile grew on his face.
I cracked a triangle of ice off of a drift and gave it to Luca to play with.
“Thank you!”, he gushed.

We stayed outside for about 20 minutes or more. Luca would have stayed out longer, playing with his icicle, surrounded by snow, breathing in fresh, cold air, but it did start to get a little chilly.  And I have to admit, it felt pretty good to me, too.

It has been a long winter. We’ve had more snow and below freezing temperatures than we’re used to for such long stretches. It wears on everyone and if it wasn’t enough to have to see ice and snow all around us, the local movie theater has “Frozen” on its marquis. Brrr. The only ones  who seem to be thriving in all of this are the robins hanging around the yard. To be more precise, they are hanging around the neighbor’s apple tree and getting enormously fat on months-old apples.  We think it can’t possibly snow anymore and then there’s a forecast for another storm. 

But it’s March. Soon we will leave coats and jackets in the closet and head outside without 15 minutes of prep. The sun will try harder and the sky will be blue and we’ll uncover the toys in the yard and we’ll play trucks, shovel dirt and make chalk drawings on the flagstones. We’ll warm up, survive the winter and all will be well again.  (But I’m hanging on to the wine and chocolates, just in case.)

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