In the Bleak Midwinter

It snowed the other day. For some, this may sound like a reason to despair: oh, they moan, more shoveling, you have to drive so slowly, and anyway, isn’t this done yet! Considering that for us living in the Northern hemisphere it is only now about mid-winter, comments like that make me laugh. Snow makes me laugh, too, usually. There is real magic in a pretty snowfall. We who do not count ourselves among the “some” but rather the “others” think of winter walks until your toes are frozen, building snowmen, making sure the bird feeders are filled. We conjure the sight and smell of hot chocolate – only truly complete when crowned by whipped cream, frothing from the heat, and chocolate sprinkles- and baked apples fresh from the oven. We remember what it was like back when we were kids, coming in half frozen from spending the afternoon frolicking in the flakes, weighed down by wet wool scarves and soppy gloves. My mum would bundle us in front of the heater, serve us aforementioned hot chocolate (though not always an apple), and leave us to thaw out until our bodies were filled with heavenly, drowsy warmth. The only thing that can top that is curling up with a book to boot.

So it snowed the other day, but it never amounted to much, despite it keeping up appearances throughout the afternoon. It was snowing again this morning, hesitantly at first, then more confidently, in fluffy flakes that I knew would be as beautiful to play in as they were to look at from the kitchen while I was making breakfast. I was stoked! Then, the wind returned.

Wind hereabouts is not just a slightly irritating side-effect of winter weather, it’s the main act. It invariably brings a drop in temperature, reducing the beautiful fluffly flakes to tiny, biting splinters of frozen water, driving them at crass angles across the yard, creating tiny drifts and generally destroying any nostalgic feelings one may have harboured for the season. I know that trying to build anything out of this powdery bluff will be impossible. The old snow underneath has melted and refrozen to an icy crust. I dread the idea of having to go outside to make sure our feathered visitors are taken care of. I want to turn my back on the show and be left alone.

Luckily, though, some of the remedies of my childhood are still available even today, when despite yesterday’s shopping trip I am entirely unprepared for decadence. A baked apple is a thing of beauty and easily prepared with minimal fuss. Thanks to long kept stocking stuffers by friends, we have real chocolate to add to hot milk for the creamy experience it should be. And my list of reading material is once again growing, even as I prepare to annihilate the paper copies of my unread books.

What is your favourite way to ward off inclement weather?

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