Friday, February 01, 2008

Bring It On, Phil!

And strangely, I don't mean spring.

Not that I wouldn't welcome spring, but can I just tell you how desperately I have been loving this winter?

Winter was magic when I was a child. I can still taste the awe and excitement of waking up and looking out of our big, picture windows to see the world sparkling, blanketed in new snow. The hush, the splendor of the smooth, crystalline surface was almost sacred.

I remember walking home from school, wearing pink and gray moon boots. Crossing the high school football field, I felt like an arctic explorer as I tromped a trail through virgin snow that came up to my knees. And of course no trip would be complete without a handful melting in my mouth as I fell backward with a poof into the white to make a snow angel.

Seeing my breath blow in steamy puffs through the icy air, I felt so alive. Examining the tiny snowflakes that fell on my window, I marveled at each intricate, unique design.

My mom would bundle me up in snow pants and coat and boots and gloves and scarves and hat. I would wander through my yard for hours. Winter made the places I knew into a brand new world, fresh for exploring. Then, I'd come in to the living room, put my wet clothes on the large metal heater vent to dry and sit in our cozy kitchen drinking hot cocoa.

Later years found me sledding -- at East Elementary with Camille, at the high school with Rachel, in our Stake President's back yard with Liesl. Oh, and thinking about Liesl reminds me of the old snowmobile we used to ride for hours around the fields at West Elementary.

Winter was a charmed time.

I don't remember exactly when I started hating winter. By the time I was in high school, I'd lost a bit of my love affair with winter. But I didn't hate it.

Winter meant singing in three different choirs all through the Christmas season. It meant lights at Temple Square in Salt Lake City.

Winter was snowball fights with Michael, holding hands and walking through the cold until midnight with Troy, driving with Kevin to meet his grandmother in a car that didn't have a heater. I had to huddle under a pile of quilts and he had to stop every couple of blocks to wipe the inside of the windshield so that he could see.

Even during those years, winter was magic.

I think it may have been my freshman year of college that did it. I didn't know it then, but an insidious monster was creeping into my life.

Seasonal Affective Disorder

Anyone who has ever suffered from depression will understand why I simply cannot put into words the intensity of the pain, the anger, the emptiness and cold that has crept through my mind and heart every winter for so many years.

The panic that came over me every year in October was palpable. The feelings of worthlessness, hopelessness that consumed me each November are excruciating to even think about.

Somehow, this year a miracle happened. After TEN YEARS of suffering through winter, of wanting to hide from everyone and everything, of loathing the cold and the ice and the gray of winter, this year I am free.

I have no explanation for it. Nor do I want to spoil the charm of it all by trying to deduce the reasons.

I am simply grateful -- overwhelmingly, completely enamored with this season, with everything about it. My heart is full of the wonder I felt as a six year old child.

Has falling snow always been this enchanting? Has it always been this white? Have I ever really seen two feet of snow so powdery that it feels like air when you shovel it? Or snow so heavy that it is like hefting shovels full of water?

Is this how it feels to greet winter without crushing, agonizing depression?

Can I have some more please? I feel like I'm making up for a decade worth of winters this year.

A few nights ago, I walked outside to see Mashuga walking lightly across the surface of the snow in our front yard. An enormous grin exploded across my face. I remember that! Do you? Do you remember when you were small and the surface of the snow was frozen so that you could walk on top and leave only the barest trace of footprints?

And snowmen. Do you remember the sheer joy of building snowmen? This year my children have made snowmen and snowdogs. Their cousins came over with long, crooked carrots for snowmen noses. They all worked together to build snowmen in our yard, then ran across the street to build two more ginormous snow people in our neighbor's yard. This was extra fun, for Iris's aunt came here from Mexico just a few months ago. This was her first winter, her first snowman. Isn't that exciting?

The vicarious joy I've gotten from my children this year would be enough, but I am just astounded by the joy I feel, the way I've walked in awe during this season. The white, the ice, the fluffy snow has warmed my heart and spirit in immeasurable ways.

So, Punxatawney Phil can shuffle out of his hole to see his shadow tomorrow. Or he can not. Whether the groundhog heralds a swiftly approaching spring or a continued winter, I will be glad for it. I will welcome it with open arms.

You see, my friends, I have been happy and able to enjoy winter for the first time in oh so many years. Life has taught me once again that I believe in miracles.


Gramama said...

You don't know me but I love to read your blog. This post was wonderful and as someone who has SAD I am so glad that you were able to enjoy this winter. Thank you for the trip down memory lane.

Rosie said...

I am so GLAD to read this post. I've been worried about you the last weeks, wondering how you are doing this winter. I am happy to see that you have rediscovered the lost joy of snowfall.

Rynell said...

I'm reading this as it's snowing outside this morning. Hooray for winter. I hear we're actually getting average snowfall this year, as opposed to the last few years. I love it! I'm glad you're enjoying it this year.

The Yarn Queen said...

Do you think there is a possiblity that Moon Boots will make a come back? They were quite stylish. Hurray for life and overcoming our obstacles no matter how they come packaged. I'm very happy for you and enjoy this year.

The Drama Momma said...

My husband suffers from this, it is a horrible thing. I am glad you have reprieve this year, may it continue.