Typically more than 30 inches of snow has fallen in the Great Lakes by mid-January and most of the lakes have accumulated enough ice to hold crowds of fishermen and ice hockey leagues. Usually there are ice bridges on the Great Lakes so snow mobiles can travel to and from the islands. Normally I am bemoaning the frigid temperatures and tell anyone who will listen that January is really the cruelest month. But, due to this year’s weirdly mild temps I feel the awe and excitement brought on by our first cumulative snowfall…in January. It is the epitome of wanting what you cannot have and absence making the heart grow fonder. I was getting a bit disgusted as I watched the mildew patches in my garden widen every week and the spring bulbs sprouting. Although we saved a bit on our heating bill and did not have to shovel the driveway, snowmen were absent, holiday lights were not as splendid as when they reflect off the snow, and when I took my nieces to the park across the road during Christmas break they got muddy.
Snow is caught on every branch and a cotton-like puffy blanket covers our village. Finally, my garden is tucked in and the ground is freezing. People are skiing and sledding for the first time this season and the die-hard haters have begun their “I hate winter” chants in the shops and online forums. This feels familiar and right. What is the point of having four-wheel drive without an icy, snowy winter? State funds for dredging have almost dried up, so what is the point of having a boat if the water is too low to put it in? What is the point of my husband’s ice auger if there isn’t any lake ice to drill through? The companions to an essential Great Lakes winter have arrived and given me hope, just in the nick of time. Funny how hope does that.
Recent silver lining searches have been tough, which for me means that it is more important than ever to ferret out positive bits in order to not be overwhelmed by uncontrollable change. During my latest attempt to shift my attitude toward gratitude it occurred to me that the existence of more clouds equal more silver linings for discovery and focus as this crazy world increases its attempt to spin me off. Digging through unrealistic cultural expectations and layers of personal emotions I finally unearthed these tidbits:
- The older I get the better I am at trivia, especially ancient history (1960-1990 trivia). My daughter has never even heard of the Double-Mint twins.
- Since I now frequent pubs rather than dance clubs, I no longer have to buy sexy club clothing and can drink a pint in the comfort of jeans and a warm sweater.
- Sex is better than ever because my husband and I have been together for a long time so we know every erogenous nook and cranny. For me the most effective aphrodisiac is the intimacy and trust we share.
- I do not have any credit card debt after learning the lessons of spending tomorrow’s money in my 20’s and 30’s. I accept that I lack discipline in this area and choose to not tempt fate by adopting a cash-only policy.
- I am a better cook due to years of culinary missteps.
- My spiritual life is richer and more satisfying than ever because I do not allow myself to be confused by other’s beliefs, opinions, or hypocritical behaviors. My relationship with God is as personal and exclusive as my marriage.
- My pharmacist knows me by name.
- I travel the well-worn path of foot-to-mouth less frequently and hurt people less often with sarcasm and dry wit.
- As a remedy for dry hair my stylist advised that I wash my hair less frequently, so I spend less on shampoo washing my hair every other day, which is good because I spend more on lotions.
- I am not objectified by men often and on those rare occasions that I am, I do not feel an ounce of indignation.
- My slower pace means I do not sport the bruises so prevalent in my younger years.
- A cold toilet seat feels heavenly during a hot flash.
- I get what I need more often because I ask for it.
- I have no qualms about wearing sweatpants during long car rides, which means my underwear do not become uncomfortably wedged.
They may seem like silly little things to be happy about, but I am willing to take even tiny bits of cheer to offset the inevitable reality of getting older. Try making your own list and see what a difference it makes in your mood. It should at least be good for a laugh.