I love winter…

I love winter. I love the first few snowfalls when the world transforms from a rainbow of color and rain to a winter wonderland. When the tree branches are covered with frosting and the birds that haven’t yet migrated are frolicking from branch to branch sending an avalanche of powdered sugar to the ground with each take off.

I love seeing my kids faces when they wake up and realize it snowed while they slept and hear their excited voices as the race through their morning routines so they can go outside and play. I love watching them discover new ways to make their sleds go faster or add an extra rush of adrenaline by attempting to “surf” rather than sled. I love seeing their rosy cheeks and their wet eyelashes as they come in from the cold and I love watching them melt from the warmth of their Hot cocoa as they sit and wait for the feeling to return to their fingers and toes.

Because I woke up today to a beautiful snowfall and felt my love for the season explode from my heart I decided today was a good day to begin blogging again. I took a temporary break from it due to several factors. I have been struggling through the worse flare ups of my chronic disease that I have ever experienced which has resulted in very few days of doing more than what was absolutely necessary. We have had a child in the hospital and have been all emotionally and physically drained….blogging just didn’t seem possible for a few weeks…but alas! Here I go again…

I genuinely love winter, and I genuinely love living in Michigan. I have never completely understood the seemingly other 98% of Michiganders who complain about winter and snow. Winter is so many wonderful things. It is exquisite in beauty. Its perfect for curling up in a blanket in front of a fire with a good book. It brings amazing food from Thanksgiving to Christmas cookies! It’s filled with magical light shows and beautiful Christmas decorations. It has snow days and sledding. Hot chocolate and baking. Presents and Holiday bonuses. The delightful scents of cinnamon, pine, and wood burning……I love winter.

I asked myself a few years ago why I loved winter so much when all my friends did nothing but complain about it for months. It seemed strange to me that my heart felt like it was going to explode with excitement every time I saw snow…the more snow the more excitement. What really made me start questioning my love for winter and compelled me to do some inner digging was when I realized that I genuinely got depressed around March (or April lol) when all the snow would be gone and trees would start to bud and the brown grass would start to brighten. As I would drive the 45 minutes to work each day I would notice the beautiful barren highway tundra slowly turning to spring…the beautiful gray skies would start to have patches of blue… and I would be sad.

WHAT?!?!?! That seemed absurd to me even though I knew I liked winter. It seemed absurd that I would be depressed at the coming spring. Even the few people I knew who liked winter and didn’t complain about it were still glad when the snow would finally end. So why was I so depressed???? And why did I feel like a little girl every time it snowed?

After months of searching my soul I finally figured it out. As a child I grew up near Lake Michigan on a family owned pig farm. We had an average of 3,000-7,000 pigs at any given time. (We were a farrowing farm which meant we bred pigs and then sold the babies when they were old enough to be weaned to another farm that raised them to market.) Side tangent…I LOVED farming and will likely share more of my farming stories in other posts. In addition to the animals we also grew and harvested much of our own grain to feed our animals. This large undertaking was run only by my parents, my sister and I, and occasionally my Grandpa and a teenage hired hand. It was a ton of work.

Spring months were stressful. We spent hours in the fields after school and sports picking up rocks and preparing the fields for planting. My dad lived in the fields…constantly plowing, disking, and planting. He would work very long hours…in the barns during the day and the fields at night. Summers were spent hay baling, fixing tractors, repairing or building new buildings, and cleaning in addition to the normal farm chores. Fall was a lot like spring.  My dad would be up before dawn and we often wouldn’t see him before we went to bed. Some times I would look out the window in the dark and see his combine headlights on as he was harvesting corn and whisper good night to him from my bed.

My dad was a wonderful father and I loved watching him work. But farming is hard and it takes a lot out of the farmer. He couldn’t call in sick or play hooky for a day. He worked in rain or shine and I rarely heard him complain except when a tractor broke. As a child i was naive and didn’t understand my father’s job very well and would often ask him to stay in the house and play with me instead of going back to work after lunch. He would sometimes give in, but often he would answer with the phrase “When the works all done next fall.” It was his way of teasing me because every farmer knows the work is never done….but at the same time I unconsciously grasped the truth of it.

Winter DID look different. The days were shorter. Dad was in the house more in the evenings after supper. He had more time to play. On weekends he would take us sledding or ice fishing. We would go and cut down our own Christmas tree.  My dad would go hunting, one of the few past times he did for fun, and would often let me tag along while he set up his stands. Winter meant dad to me. Not that he didn’t do everything he could to spend time with us the rest of the year, but winter meant the farm demanded just a little less of him.

And so I realized that as the daughter of a farmer I loved winter because it brought so many wonderful things, but mostly it brought extra time with dad….And I realized that the budding trees and melting snow also meant the work season was about to start and with it came less of dad. I love how much my dad sacrificed for our family and I am deeply proud of him and all he accomplished (with total support and help from my mom obviously….but this post is mostly about my revelation of my dad. I’ll write about mom and what I love about her in another post!) But winter will always hold a special place in my heart for what it signifies to me about my dad and about time with family. And even though my kids aren’t growing up on a farm and don’t see our jobs change with the seasons, I hope that I can pass on the magic and coming together of our family that I experienced as a kid.

I love winter.

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