Good-bye Hot Chocolate, Hello Spring
This columnist takes time out from brewing hot chocolate and shoveling her driveway to find a moment of zen.
I just spent the better part of an hour shoveling off my driveway. With the majority of the snow forecasted to hit later tonight, the least I could do to help my husband was shovel off the two inches that had already collected. It wasn’t too hard thankfully, being the light, fluffy, dry snow. I figure I’ll let my husband shovel the other 10 wet inches tomorrow morning. I know he’ll thank me for getting rid of that difficult first batch. After all, he could’ve ended up shoveling twelve.
Shoveling snow while it’s snowing is a lot like raking leaves when it’s windy, or doing laundry for that matter. Just when you think you’ve got it all neat and tidy, piles made, socks folded, you turn around and notice that nothing’s really changed. The path is full again. Your yard is papered brown. Everyone is out of underwear. Sometimes the futility of life makes me dizzy.
I’ve always been one to enjoy each season here in New England and try to appreciate each day within them. Being a native of Arizona—where the two seasons are summer and summer-light—has made me appreciate the wet, mucky leaves in fall, the breezes off the ocean in summer, and the rain during spring. But I must admit that all this snow has really left me pining for the next season to arrive. I’m ready for the snow to melt. I’m ready for the temperatures to rise. I am sick of vacuuming wood chips from the carpet around my fireplace. If I have to make one more cup of hot chocolate, someone’s going to get hurt.
Anyone who really knows me can tell you that much of my life exists around carefully orchestrated illusions. I’m okay with this. If I admit that I’m delusional about many things, it’s not really a problem is it? It’s like the difference between knowing you’re crazy and not knowing it. The really crazy people always think they’re sane. In keeping with how I operate in this world, I decided to devote some serious time to imagining it’s almost spring. If my daughter’s preschool class can celebrate summer this week, I can delude myself into thinking the next season is around the corner. It seems only fair to devote some thought to spring now, since I’ll still be thinking about homework and grades at the tail end of June—making up for all these snow days. I’m gonna take my respite where I can. Even if it’s only in my imagination.
I close my eyes. Take a deep breath. The snow has melted and the crocus, tulips, and daffodils have emerged from the hard soil, waving in yellow, pink, and white. That first warmish breeze of spring hits my face. I’m sitting on the front stoop, eyes closed, face towards the sun. Lying beside me are my seed packets, the cheap ones from the dollar store. I’ve decided not to plant the organic ones again; they’re simply too fussy. It’s time to plant lettuces, and spinach, sugar snap and shelling peas, and onions can go in the ground, too. They take a long time to grow, those onions. I sit there on that stoop, sun rays warming my skin. I pretend those rays are soft hands caressing my cheeks, holding my face gently in the palms of cupped hands, the breeze enveloping me like a hug, filling me with a sense of peace. The snow shovel has been put away. I have vacuumed the last of the gritty snow-sand from my floors. Fine, soft beach sand will replace it. All is well with the world.
A crying child shatters my zen-like moment. I need to stoke the fire again. Unwrap a three-year-old from her insulated waterproof sheathing. Is it time for a glass of wine yet? Since my visualization exercise was interrupted, I decide to focus on the tactile items that help me channel spring. My props if you will.
My neighbor gave me an Amaryllis bulb for Christmas, which is potted and sitting in my living room window. Miraculously, despite subzero temperatures, the darn thing has actually sprouted. This is my kind of plant. The kind that thumbs its nose at convention and grows despite lack of sun, real soil, or warmth. I not only find myself appreciating its budding growth, but silently wishing my children would grow despite sun, real food, or attention. (Not really. All these snow days have just left me feeling really cranky.)
In addition to my soon-to-be-flower in the window, my seed magazines have arrived in the mail. Nothing makes me feel like spring is almost here more than many pages of shiny farms and gardens. While most people enjoy reading home decorating magazines, or publications filled with new recipes and ways to reorganize your life, I enjoy leafing through seed catalogs. It’s a little bit like fresh-veggie-porn for me, each page full of deep purple eggplants, rainbow chard, potatoes ranging from indigo to red to pink, lettuces in all shades of emerald and lime, page after page of shiny, glossy gardens full of promise. With the curtains drawn, my iced tea in hand, and my veggie mags spread before me, I can almost smell the musty, mineral-y soil. I can feel the fuzzy soft tomato leaves that perfume my fingers when touched. Maybe we’ll have BLT’s for dinner.
That’s where I am on this cold, snowy, snow-day. Imagining my happy place, that place that brings me nothing but peace and tranquility. Because in five minutes I’m going to need to go make three boxes of macaroni and cheese and a pan of brownies to feed all those kids playing in my yard. On a Thursday. They better not want hot chocolate.