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Dealing with Winter

Guest post by Erin

So many recent conversations with friends near and far have begun with some variation of these phrases: "How's your family dealing with the weather?" or "I bet you're really missing California/Hawaii right now?!?!?"

There's often a subtle look of disappointment when John or I report that it's not too bad.  Yes, there's too much snow and nowhere to put it. Yes, it's getting old that the kids have missed 6 days of school in the last month.  But then again, there's a strange comfort in our current inability to control what's falling from the sky and piling up on our streets and sidewalks.  EVERYWHERE!  And our kids are really helping us to make the best of it. This morning as I marveled at the accumulation, my little contrarian MJ informed me that "Mom, that's not really THAT much snow."

When asked what he thinks about all of the weather, OJ said, "You know, I like that we get all of the seasons.  If I want sunshine, I just wait until summer.  In winter, we get snow and it's so much fun to play in the snow, and we never got to do that in California"

He's on to something there. Living in a place with a clear delineation between seasons adds a pace to life that I've not experienced living elsewhere. Growing up in Houston, TX I knew life with two seasons-- drab, cold winter (wrap the pipes and cover the azaleas) and oppressively hot and humid summer (move from one air-conditioned building to another or to a swimming pool).  Seven years in Northern CA showed me that there are flowers that bloom year round.  And, there's nothing quite like leaving work in sunny Danville and traveling west on Hwy 24 to emerge from the Caldecott Tunnel into a massive wall of fog.  Honolulu, HI is truly a tropical paradise with so many different beaches and seldom a need to wear much more than a bathing suit (especially if you don't have air conditioning!).  In Pasadena, CA, 75-90 degrees and sunny was the lovely, lovely default.

But I'm finding comfort in embracing each season in Cambridge for what it is.  When Spring buds and the temperatures start to approach 65, we shed layers of clothing and laugh when co-eds shed too many to soon to sunbathe by the Charles River. Neighbors gather at the parks just to enjoy being outside, together.  Summer brings trips to swim in Walden pond and dinners cooked entirely on the grill.  I absolutely love running along the Charles river in the Fall when temperatures start to drop and planning Thanksgiving dinner. And then comes winter and snow.

With two active boys and having never lived in a place with snow, I was naturally worried before moving here.  A friend back in SoCal gave the best piece of advice about moving to New England - enjoy each season for what it is and dress accordingly.  She insisted that we invest in waterproof boots, coats and gloves and get outside often to enjoy the snow--- and she was right! Having warm gear has kept us warm enough to build a snow fort and miniature sledding hill in our tiny yard.  We team up with neighbors to keep the sidewalk clear, which involves a system of kids pushing their snow shovels down the sidewalk to an empty yard where we, adults, wait to heave shovels-full over the fence.

Yesterday, in preparation for a week with no school, we borrowed our weight in books from the Cambridge Public Library. Then we headed to Fresh Pond for some proper sledding.  It. Was. Awesome. I loved it as much as the boys did!

A few weeks ago at school-pickup time parents gathered at the entrance to the school and were chatting about preparations for blizzard #2.  One mom shared that she didn't mind snow days because they give us an excuse to just stop.  We can stop rushing, stop worrying about going places and doing things.  I love this mentality and am working hard to embrace it.  It's akin to the practice in yoga of finishing a series of challenging postures with shavasana or "dead-body-pose".  The purpose is to dedicate the same amount of focus and intention you give to a challenging posture to just being still. Our bodies need it to fully receive the benefits of the practice. Our minds and spirits need it too. It helps me to think of winter this way, as a time to rejuvenate. When everything else just waits.


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