I started to write an article on the winter blues, but I got depressed.
(Editor's Note: This article was originally published on January 30, 2008. Your questions and comments are welcome, but please be aware that authors of previously published articles may not be able to respond to your questions.)
I wallow in winter. I succumb to the long dark nights, short cold days, weeks when the sun doesn’t put in more than a cursory appearance. I wander from window to window, following the daylight from east to west, landing in the window seat in time to watch the low clouds red up a bit before the dark settles in. I start things, and wander off wondering exactly what it was I was thinking when the project at hand had seemed such a good idea.
goldfinches hang a round the thistle feeder asking each other questions and decrying the cold weather. Some winters, the birds come and sit on the outside sill and watch me. One year, Stan walked through the living room and saw me sitting watching the evening grosbeaks watching me and said, “Let me know if they pull out tiny little binoculars.”
For the most part, I manage to keep up with things, dishes get washed, laundry gets done, the plants that I brought in for the winter get watered, often before they droop past recognition. I even get some housecleaning done - closets occupy much of my days in January, possible redecorating schemes in February. By early March, I’m starting seeds, though I know there isn’t a hope that they will be able to go out until late May, and there’s still a chance even then that we’ll yet have frosts and snow.
Some years, I challenge myself to shake the winter up. One year, I had a nile lily in the plant room and actually managed to get it to bloom. The poor thing stuck its lovely self up above the window sill, saw the snow falling and faded fast. I kept the seed head for a few years, a reminder that I had once had that ball of blue florets bursting like fireworks in February.
Last year, after watching several hours of organization shows on HGTV, I decided to clean out my fabric collection and put it in trendy muslin lined wicker baskets. I already had two metal shelving units for them to rest on when done. It took weeks. Just getting all the material out of the closet took days. Then I had to decide if I was going to arrange it by color or by value, by print size or by fiber. Who knew I had so much wool, so many flannels, upholstery material, bits of vinyl, satins, netting, sheers, to say nothing of the cottons. When finished, I stood back and looked at it all, and had to sit down quickly. Do you know how many quilts, shirts, dresses, cushions, wall hangings, and heaven knows what else I’m going to have to make to use all that up?
This year, so far, I’ve cleaned out one closet. I found two boxes that hadn’t been unpacked from when we moved in 14 years ago. I was amazed at the things that I found, some that I thought I had lost forever, and some that I hadn’t even realized yet that I’d lost. I gave away four prom/bridesmaid’s dresses that had belonged to my daughters (both of whom are now mothers and well past their prom going years) and a brown polyester jacket and slate blue three piece corduroy suit that were Stan’s back in the day. I kept the light blue suede leisure jacket - who would believe it existed if I didn’t?
This past week, I’ve been cleaning the study, getting it ready for the moment when the penny will drop and I’ll be back to work, designing, printing photos, sewing up some of the fabric, sorting out manuscripts, scanning old family pictures. For now, it looks rather good, tops cleared and dusted, drawers tidied, floor vacuumed.
But it’s snowing again, and it’s getting dark. One of these days, I really will write an article on the winter blues. Maybe in June, when the sun is shining and daylight lasts longer than 45 minutes.
About Kathleen M. Tenpas
We have a grazing dairy of 55 cows in the rolling hills of western New York State where we raised two daughters who have now blessed us with four grandchildren. I have messy, jungly beds of old roses, (some real antiques left by former owners), perennials, wildflowers and lots and lots of not so ornamental grasses! I have a Masters degree in Creative Writing: Poetry from Antioch University. I am a photographer and fabric artist and I bake a mean loaf of bread.