Nature's Course.

Saturday, November 25, 2017

The intense winter's of my childhood as a Midwestern girl were simply part of life.
We were in Minnesota, after all.
Where come December, sometimes even by late November, there were already a few inches of snow on the ground.  
The winds howled and rattled our front porch screens. 
The metal railing outside the front door was frozen to the touch and our walk to and from school each day was nothing shy of an Arctic adventure, as our little legs toiled the old tree-lined streets of St. Anthony Park in snow up to our knees.  
It was brutal.
But we didn't complain nor question it.  This was winter.  This, was Minnesota.
The unadulterated glee of that first snow fall, whether it fell before we'd gotten our pumpkins carved or after all our Christmas presents had been played with and flung aside, didn't matter.  It was the stuff dreams are made of.  
Each promising weather prediction on the news was eagerly met with our little noses pressed against bedroom windows where we longingly awaited a new season.
And when it started to come down?  It was as if we were seeing snow for the first time as we watched the heavy flakes fly.
We rushed downstairs elbowing and jockeying for first hands on the bucket of mittens, hats and snow pants.
Spent hour upon hour wedged in to cheap, plastic red sleds with our dad down College Hill.  Gripping the yellow rope between mittened hands, terrified and elated all at once as we flew down the St. Paul hills at lighting speed.

Those long, winter days when traveling outside a four-block radius was too great (and risky) an effort, so made our own adventures and tapped in to the steep hill we lived on.  Never mind the line of cars, their tail ends hanging over the sidewalks to make room for the snowplows coming through.  Kajsa Larson and I straddled our sleds atop an icy sidewalk, glanced at the Minneapolis Skyline off to the West and shoved off, only to be brought to an abrupt stop a quarter of the way down when half my young but stout, Norwegian frame got wedged under our neighbors' parked car in the driveway.

Did I think I was going to just skate right by the wheel well unscathed?  We rolled and shook, crying with laughter.  Literally peeing our snow pants giggling as my tiny friend tried to pry me loose and haul me out like a sled-dog pulling a steamboat.

Winter's weren't a burden.  They were magic.  We knew, even as kids, they wouldn't last forever.  So we soaked up every second.
We ENJOYED it despite the temporary discomfort, knowing the excitement of ANOTHER new season would be upon us in no time.

The shifting of each season as a child was met with, well, child-like delight.
We didn't begrudge the cold snap of wind in our faces.  That was a minor detail.  A simple reminder to dress warmer.  And what made that cup of hot chocolate plum full of marshmallows taste even better.  What allowed us to see Spring's beautiful blooms and another of Minnesota's summer tropical heat waves to be even more appreciated.

I'm not sure when or how I lost that. . .that beautiful connection to nature.  
The childlike ability to just be where I was, no matter the weather.  It seems to have been a slow, subtle undoing.  Maybe as a teen when the reality of winter requiring MORE clothing went against my idea of wanting to wear less. 
I seemed to have gotten distracted along the way.  That love, appreciation and presence in nature lost to a sea of teenage angst, boys, college classes and trying to figure out life.

Even when I became a mother myself, oddly, my connection to nature and the outdoors, welcoming the beautiful change of seasons, only seemed to be stymied more.  
I was outside a lot.  But I wasn't. . .there.
I was exhausted.  Scrambling after fearless toddlers and counting down the minutes until nap time.
Too tired to see straight, let alone the wilderness beckoning me to surrender to it.

I even remember not too many years ago, watching snow fall outside our living room windows and being overrun with anxiety.  Panic bringing up the rear.  Never before had I felt that.  The unadulterated joy and elation of my childhood for the falling of fresh snow and whirling winds outside suddenly an impossible thing to imagine.  

Instead, I felt only fear.  Fear of being stuck.  Of not being able to escape.  Of the cold pressing down on us, the snow barricading our doors.  (Ah, CLEARLY an indication and signpost my life and current mental state was in need of some repair:)  

How had my perspective and view of life shifted so dramatically?  And seemingly so far from where it began as a child?

I knew, despite the fear, I had to find my way back.  Back to the wildness, the WILDERNESS of my youth.  
I couldn't RUN from the winters of my life.  I had to go back IN to them.  Completely.
An unexpected but much needed "deep-rest" period forced me to slow down and take to the woods.  To relearn to BE with what was, but also practice ALLOWING and ACCEPTING the changing of seasons and all the beauty and lessons they brought with no matter how hard the winds whipped, the rains poured, or how strongly the sun beat down.

I had to willingly fall in to the most valuable and painstaking work of learning to work WITH nature instead of against it.

The winters spent hibernating I engaged in as a young mother of three, over time, fell away.  They opened up to a new found freedom and passion to adventure in and enjoy EVERY season, no matter WHAT.
I know they say winter is a time of "rest."  I suppose it is. . .for the shrubs and the trees.  For the flowers of our summer months.  But for me?  It's now another season to PLAY in.  

An invitation to dive in to another world outdoors (with more layers, of course) and an even greater appreciation for the warmth of fire, (good mittens, durable long underwear,) and the changing over of life.

(Now just waiting for the snow to fly!!!)


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