Sunday, January 24, 2016

Another Word for Winter

It’s official. The Blizzard of 2016 was the biggest snowstorm to hit our area in 20 years. Snow began falling Friday night at 7 PM, and when it was over we had 25 inches of the white stuff. Steve made a stab at clearing a path late yesterday morning, but his efforts were swiftly erased by the gusts and flurries that followed. We never lost power, so it was actually a nice, cozy day. Steve built a fire in the evening, and we sat in front of it going over his lines (he is understudying the lead in a new play in the city and has to be ready to go on at any time). The three church staff members in the family got the word that Sunday School and services were cancelled for this morning.  Again today, most of us are not going anywhere.

I thought back over a lifetime of winters yesterday. As a little girl, I remember building snowmen in Manhattan that quickly turned gray with soot, so that wasn’t much fun. Our time in Atlanta was notable for the ice storms that downed power lines and made travel impossible for days on end. Our one year in Boston was (surprise) freezing  and snowy, but by then I was much too old to go sledding, so it was more a nuisance than a thrill.

Aiden's Daddy and Uncle Evan Winter 1987

It was not till my kids were little that I found any happiness in winter. All five of them loved bundling up and heading outdoors after a snowfall.  While I still didn’t enjoy cold weather at all, I definitely enjoyed their enjoyment of it. The years went by; I bought larger and larger snow pants and boots for my brood. One by one, they outgrew snowball fights and snow forts, and then suddenly I was worrying about their safety as my new drivers first navigated slippery roads, heading to school or work.

There was a lull in our wintertime fun, and then along came Aiden. He adores being outside, in any weather. Yesterday was magical for my 20 month old grandson. He tried to catch snowflakes in his mittened hands, laughing, and “helped” Grandpa shovel. He didn’t stay out long as it was too windy and cold, so it was soon in for dry clothes and hot soup. But next year he will be ready to go down the big hill in the neighborhood, and play in the snow with his little buddies.

Aiden helping Grandpa clean off the car

They say the Inuit people of Northern Canada and Alaska have 50 words for snow in their vocabulary. Aiden doesn’t even have one yet, but if he did, it would have to convey his awesome experience of a glistening white and quiet and beautiful Oreland.  So, as I gaze out the window at the morning sunlight sparkling on the drifts, let me remember to look at the world through Aiden’s eyes. May I find a new word for winter, and learn to love whatever season of my life I am in.

Saturday, January 16, 2016


I am a collector. For years, I collected turtles--sculptures of all sizes and made of everything from glass to pottery. Gradually my focus shifted to frogs, and I amassed a boatload of frogs—frogs made of fabric, ceramic frogs, etc. And while I still love my inanimate amphibians (Ya-Jhu gave me an adorable frog candle
My latest collectible!
holder), the parade of new items has slowed to a crawl, and that’s probably a good thing. Because I have so many other collections to deal with. 

I collect spatulas. I have, no joke, 10 spatulas of various sizes, and Lord only knows where most of them came from. I don’t remember buying any of them. They are gathered in a large Quaker Oats box on my kitchen counter, and I stand ready to enter any pancake flipping contest, anywhere. Also on the culinary front, I have a collection of seasonal decorative cheese spreaders adorned with tiny Nutcrackers and seashells and bunches of grapes. We don’t entertain much, so my spreaders usually sit in a drawer—but again, the next time a giant wheel of
Cheese Spreaders on Parade
Brie comes a calling, I’m all set!

Moving on to my bedroom, I collect outdated (therefore useless) writer’s books and magazines: Writer’s Market 2010 shares shelf space with the Christian Writer’s Guide from 2011. Stacks of Writer’s Digest magazines feature contests that closed long, long ago.  Mind you, I always buy the newest versions of these publications, but never pitch the old ones, so my collection is getting pretty big. I also have a vast collection of high heeled shoes dating from my episodes of bipolar mania in 2006. I no longer wear heels, so my colorful assortment just gathers dust. Keeping them all, though, because—well, you never know!

In the bathroom, I am an avid collector of hair ties, bobby pins and toothbrushes (at last count there were 14 toothbrushes in our sink-side cup—and there are only 4 adult sets of teeth in the house). I also collect vintage perfumes and colognes, because surely there will come a day when my (now rancid) bottle of EsteĆ© is back in vogue. My bathroom gallery is rounded out with an array of expired medications from now-forgotten illnesses, and bottles of mostly-empty shampoo.

I haven’t even touched on my collection of vases. Sheridan shamed me into putting many blossom-holders out on the curb with a sign marked “free” but I still have enough to set up shop as a florist. And let’s not even get into the miniature porcelain pitchers (yeah, I checked on e-Bay, they ain’t worth much) I inherited from the grandmother.

Every summer when we live in our rather spare beach rental, I swear I will start living a different life, with many fewer collections. But then we return to Oreland, and it’s back to collecting, collecting. So I guess that’s just me, and I should probably quit fighting it.

If you’re wondering what to get me for my birthday, I could really use another spatula.