The Break Days in February

Every year does not give me breaks in February, but this year, I needed them. Yesterday, rather than being buried under snow and ice, we had breezy 63 degree weather and sunshine over the river that runs through our small city. We didn’t really need the coats we compulsively put on because it’s February. I saw kids outside in shorts, playing quick pick-up games of soccer and basketball just to get their legs stretched out from the long winter slumber.

I need a break sometimes, and if I don’t take it on purpose my body tends to give it to me – sometimes in the form of a 5 hour long headache where I curl up on the couch and don’t emerge till twilight. In the years of being an adult, I’ve gotten better and worse at listening to my body, but I am starting to really appreciate any day when my body works well, lets me produce the things I need to produce each day, let’s me clean and cook and work and write. I think often of those who are confined to their homes because of long-term illness and I pray that they too have their forms of breaks, because I am often so unkind to myself for my body’s inabilities. We have a lot to learn from the patience of those who have to move slowly by no fault of their own.

When the pain goes away, though, and when the sun breaks through in February, I don’t dwell on the long to-do list that I am now far behind on – I usually revel in the joy of being better, of being warmer. For a few hours yesterday after my headache, Husband and I took a long walk and got meatballs for dinner at an outdoor food truck by the river. I didn’t move quickly because I still felt weak, but every moment that I wasn’t curled up on the couch was a miracle. These rises, these returns, are some of the most pure feelings I ever have.

Tending To One’s Frozen Garden

sausage surprise

I haven’t written a lot of new things lately. I still post, short food memories and reposts of old recipes, but I’ve been feeling a bit frosted over these last few weeks – I go to work, I get Christmas presents bought and wrapped, and I try to join friends for cheerful gatherings, but all the other time, the long dark times of the winter, have me wrapped up in blankets with a book or a computer screen. I’m hibernating a little.

I also feel coiled to spring. We have a blow-up Santa Claus in our front yard, and every few days he gets so encumbered with ice and snow that the blower motor cannot puff him up. I kick the snow and ice off of him and eventually, like he was just waiting to be unleashed, he puffs right back up, his pillowy plastic hand waving to passersby. I’m encumbered by the ice too, made to walk very slowly and deliberately, made to relish sleep and revel in hot liquids. But I’m poised, ready to make 2017 wonderful.

I cannot tell if I’m in a rut or simply haven’t finished a big project lately, but whatever it is, I know that this coming year is going to bring big things. I want to teach better than before, do the administrative part of my work with clarity and organization, and work hard on writing. I want to be a great wife and a passionate community member. I have a lot of things I hope to be, and I’m mulling over what the practical steps are to do these things. It’s a good time, winter, for making plans. Some of the plans will just be idle daydreams while the winter makes the streets too slick to go anywhere, but some of them will show up in our spring awakenings.

That being said, I’ll be around. I don’t stop eating and thinking and trying to connect to friends and family just because it’s winter; I’m just moving a little slower, trying to be a little more deliberate.