This past winter in Michigan was one of the harshest on record. Unless you were 130, you have never experienced a cold season like this past one. It dumped almost 100 inches of snow on us – I resorted to using a sled to get my groceries from the car to the front door! Our van isn’t four-wheel drive, so I stayed home on the bad days (which were many). My one year old daughter, Cora, was not particularly fond of playing in the sub-zero howling winds, so for most of the time we were stuck inside staring out.
By January, I started to feel like Jack Nicholson in The Shining. I stayed in my blue robe most of the day, except for a quick costume change (jogging pants under my robe and a pair of muck boots) in order to let the chickens out before racing back inside to escape the freezing white flakes of doom.
And I accessorized my stylish look with a steady stream of grievances. Jon got into it too. It got so bad that by the end of the month, we had to do something radical. We agreed that for all of February neither of us was allowed to mention anything negative about the weather. Here is what happened:
We Went Outside More
This seems like a strange one to lead with, but it’s the first thing I noticed. I consciously tried to stop projecting my annoyance/fear onto Cora and made a point of bundling her up and bringing her outside every single day, even if it was just to go check the mail. And the more we went out, the easier it got until it became integrated into our daily life. My favorite part was when Jon started bundling Cora up every night and took her out to sing “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star”.
We Stopped Wanting to Escape
There is a statistic that says two thirds of the population wishes they were somewhere else. For as long as I can remember, I wanted to get to the next phase and place of my life. And in many cases that feeling drives us to whatever it is we need to do.
But, existing in that perpetual disembodied state is exhausting. In my case, I could have gone anywhere in the world to start my dream farm, but it was my choice to be in Michigan. And it’s my choice to stay. Time to stand in the place where we live.
We Made More Sweet Sweet Love
Almost every day when Jon would get home, we focused on how bad the weather was – sometimes we’d even mix it up by throwing in a few observations about gnarly traffic patterns.
These conversations really set a depressing tone for our evenings, and we carried that low energy with us to the place where the magic was supposed happen.
A week into our experiment left us feeling invigorated and up for inventing new ways to keep warm on those bitter nights.
We Synced Up With the Seasons
Instead of fighting the elements, we accepted that even modern man has limits. For us winter became a time for reflecting and planning for the upcoming season. We bought seeds, ordered our chickens and bees, installed a wood burning stove, researched new skills, made intentions for the coming year, and drank some apple cider homebrew from our fall harvest. We emerged from winter feeling prepared and ready to grow.
It Spilled Over
Nature is very reflective, and it wasn’t long before my observations spilled over onto the relationships in my life. Everyone experiences their seasons and every season plays its part. I’m learning how to weather both my own and other peoples’ storms in a more compassionate light.
There are many worse things than complaining, and it doesn’t bother me when others do it. But, if I’m going to commit to this land and lifestyle, it’s time to change the way I categorize and think about things as simple and fundamental as weather.
As I struggle to change my habits, I’m looking at the wild around me for examples of alternative ways to experience reality.
Yesterday it was pouring rain, and the cows were out eating in the pasture. It seemed like the perfect opportunity for Cora and I put on our muck boots and go dancing in the rain!
Your Woman Gone Wild,
ps. now if anyone has any tips on becoming Zen about these mosquitoes, I’d love to hear them!