Tuesday, February 5, 2013

A letter I never thought I would write

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my view on my way to yoga

Dear Winter,

When I first left tropical Malaysia to complete my studies here in the States, it was in August of 1994. Summer. Which was a good thing since it helped me transition from the heat I knew to the cold I didn’t.

That was the year I first encountered Fall, something I’ve only witnessed through movies. And wow! What a season. I still remember the fiery red tree on the university campus right outside the Parks and Recreation building that took my breath away, and I would go out of my way to see that tree every year in all its audacious magnificence.

Having also attended my first Fall Festival at a State Park that same year, which surrounded me with postcard-perfect colors, it was easy to fall in love with Autumn.

And then came you, dear winter. I experienced snow for the first time at age 19, and goodness gracious was I ill-prepared. On an invitation to my first ski trip, I wore my heavy black suede coat over only a t-shirt. Hey, don’t roll your eyes at me - I’m from Malaysia!

Needless to say, I froze my butt off. I came down with bronchitis that same week and was sent home from the health center by the campus police because I was too weak and feverish to make the trip back on my own. I could only imagine what the neighbors thought when they saw me coming out from the back of the police car. I was not very happy with you then.

But I also knew of your inevitability with each passing year, and that’s when I realized I should master the art of layering. After a few icicles on my head, I’d also learned not to go outside in below freezing temps with wet hair. But that’s all about survival.

Over the years, however, I’ve gone from begrudgingly accepting you to embracing your presence in my life. You see, some time after I discovered the wonder of snow boots, I started seeing you with new eyes. It all started with the sound and feel of snow beneath my soles. There’s nothing like it.
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I remember being acutely aware of this new sensation for the first time when I was walking across campus by myself, and all I heard and felt was the muffled crunch of fresh, powdery snow under my boots. That familiar, rhythmic sound soon became a welcome partner in accompanying me in the often-quiet streets of winter. Now, every time I walk in the snow, I am brought back to that night, to that particular moment, over 17 years ago.

And that’s why, while my neighbors celebrated 60-degree weather that gave us thunderstorms in January, I complained, “This precipitation should’ve been snow!”

Spring and summer are easy to love. We come out of a long hibernation in the spring in anticipation of shedding our multiple layers. When we see the first blooms of grape hyacinths, tulips, and daffodils, the harbingers of a winter thaw, we get giddy. Because we know that beach and pool weather is around the corner.

But you. Winter. Well, it took me years to get excited about you. After all, I spent a lot of time commuting in the bitter cold and traveling on brown slush. There’s nothing like a city commute to quickly ruin the chastity and romance of a city blanketed in the purest white snow.

With no commute this year, it was easier to focus on the romantic parts of you: the beauty of snowfall, the joy in children jumping in the snow, the comfort of coming inside to hot cocoa for the kids and chai for the grown-ups, the indulgence of mulled wine by the fireplace on single-digit-temperature nights, especially when snuggled under a blanket with the love of your life.

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I make soups and stews a-plenty.


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I bake more eagerly, welcoming the wafting scent of baked goods and the added warmth from the oven. My girls frolic in pink footie pajamas all day, and they snuggle under the covers to read.

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I also run. The temperature registered a chilly 9 degrees (that’s -21 Celcius for my Malaysian blood) last Friday, but the sun was shining, and that’s all I needed. Feeling the sun on my face while running is one of my new favorite zen moments. So I added an extra layer (see? I learned!) and went outside that afternoon.

Don’t get me wrong. It wasn’t an easy run, but I loved being out there all the same. I’ve run in rain, hail, snow, and single-digit temperatures this year, and I do it because it feels good. Because of the enormous satisfaction I get at the end of the run, knowing I did it.

And I am so glad I did, because when I get home to little girls yelling a welcoming (and sometimes deafening), “Mommy! Mommy!”, a guy who high-five’s my progress, and a long, hot shower, I am literally soaking with gratitude. For the warmth of my home, for the support of my family, for the strength of my body, and for the time I had to myself.

It feels great to finally be able to welcome each season with open arms and look forward to the snow as much as I do the beach. I loathe bundling all of us up to go outside because it takes forever to get all the layers and accessories on, but at the same time, it’s worth it. Just like this past weekend, when we bundled up to go sledding.

It’s a first for 20-month-old Thumper. She was dressed in Little Miss’ old snowsuit, and she slid down a bunny hill all by herself with the biggest smile and a gleeful, “Whee!” that culminated in a “More peas!” (please) at the end. Little Miss didn’t hesitate to go down the hill by herself either, and the girls would take turns riding on one sled with their daddy too.


SledCollage

It was ridiculously cold, but when you have two giddy little kids begging for more, you don’t think about your frozen appendages. You just go go go until they’re ready to stop.  Then you come home and nestle into the nooks of your home, of each other, and melt into the moment. That’s the thing about you isn’t it? You know just how to draw people closer together.

And that’s why, when My Guy and I discuss our next possible place to live, I cannot fathom a place without the four seasons. Yes, I know many could do without you, but not me. I need all four.

It’s funny what time does to a person. A girl from the tropics longing for snow - who knew? It took me many years to fall in love with you, Winter, but now that I’m here, I can’t imagine being anywhere else.

Always,
Justine

This post is linked up to Momalom’s Love Fest. Click on the button below and read more.

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