I have been home alone all week, out here, thirty miles from the nearest gas station, the nearest place to purchase a diet coke or a donut or a new pair of mittens. Oh, I could jump in my car and drive that thirty miles and visit my friends, sit down and work in town, but the new winter wind has been pushing its way through the cracks in my old house and I want to be here to greet it.
See, it has been threatening snow, threatening winter for a few days and the North Dakota weatherman loves this. He loves the drama of it all. He loves to tell us to stay indoors, to hunker down. He laughs. He banters through the green and yellow storm system on his map.
He tells us what it is going to be like.
Gusting wind. Three to four inches of white stuff. Chilly. 20-30 degrees. Cold.
And of course, when the sun will set. Approximately 6:15 pm and then you’re on your own in this little house, girl.
Just you and the cats and dogs.
And I should be afraid, after a summer filled with warm sunshine, plans for the future, long hot days with work to be done.
I should be nervous about the next four to five months where I might be forced to be cooped up, thinking, writing, planning, worrying about the future. Hunkering down.
This is what winter tends to do to people around here. Make them worry.
And those things, the solitary, the chill that sets in about now used to scare me. I used to panic and wish for the sun to return while I wrote melancholy music all winter and cursed the sky.
But this week a sort of satisfied, full, accepting calm has drifted over me and when I woke up yesterday morning to a dusting of fresh snow I fully expected the panic. I fully expected the dread to set in.
But with coffee cup in hand, I surprised myself as I sat all day by my drafty window fixated by the patterns the snow made in the lawn, by the way the wind whistled, by how, just like that, the morning, the landscape, the world was cleaned up and put to sleep under this sparkling, cold blanket.
So I stepped out in it, bundled from head to toe in layers of wool and cotton and down and knit and was struck again for the first time since my childhood at the absolute peace and tranquility winter brings.
The wind changes tune, the grass makes muffled noises as you walk through, as if to say “shhh, shhh, everything’s sleeping.” The leaves no longer crunch, the trees are bare and each species seems to blend into the next, holding on to one another, coming together for the greater good of the chilly season.
I found myself holding my breath as I crept up toward the horses who were cutting trails through the pasture, pushing aside the white with their noses and looking for the next, silent bite. They snorted and nuzzled and their hot breath warmed my chilled face, their fur now ragged and thick catching snowflakes and protecting their backs from the climate.
They are always prepared.
Nature is always prepared.
And the geese above my head yelled down, making their brief presence known on their fast flight south. A bittersweet sound. A sound that cut the crisp air.
Oh weatherman. You don’t know where I am, what this season really feels like. You would not be smirking if you did. You would not be so full of pride at your declaration, so full of hate for the wind.
Because you have never been here. You have never been so far away, so cold and so full of peace out here in this white, mysterious horizon.
But I have. I’m here. I have found a season you never will.