Winter Light

Winter Light

I know that as a Northern girl living in southern Virginia, I feel out of place at times. Winter doesn’t really feel like winter here.

It’s gray and brown and dull. It rains and mud proliferates everywhere. It’s rather depressing. I was reminded just how much I miss my northern winters this morning.

I awoke with the sun shining in my windows, and as I opened my eyes to it I knew without a doubt that there was snow on the ground. I didn’t need to look out the window. I didn’t need to slip on my glasses.

I could tell simply by the quality of light this morning that the sun’s rays were bouncing off the white crystals in the yard and producing an almost magical bright light for the world.

So when I tell my southern friends that I miss the snow, it isn’t just the skiing or the crunch under my feet. It isn’t just the beauty of a wood covered with a fresh blanket of white — unsoiled by human touch. It is the very sun itself and the way it shines through my windows on a chilly winter’s morn.

sunshine

Adventure: A Kentucky Cabin

Adventure: A Kentucky Cabin

Kentucky CabinMy brother has a cabin in Kentucky, a small, two-bedroom, *mostly*-finished cabin in the woods. It doesn’t have an address. He needs to call the post office about that. It doesn’t show up on Google Maps, but maybe that’s not a bad thing. It doesn’t have a bathroom, yet. Someday it will. March snowfall has made the road to it nearly impassable, but he has four-wheel-drive and he can pick us up at the bottom of the hill.

Kentucky Cabin

We came from all around — Peter and his family from Ohio, John and his family from Georgia, myself from Virginia, my parents from another place in Ohio. Only one couldn’t join us this year, the brother in Washington, D.C. I guess it’s a city that never sleeps, or takes a vacation.

Kentucky Cabin

Kentucky Cabin

Kentucky Cabin

Nieces and nephews were everywhere, tumbling over each other in the tiny space. They’re all getting so big.

Islay is nearly 11. I was her nanny when she was a newborn. Hard to believe how time passes.

Ian is nearly 10. He wears glasses now, and looks so studious.

Tessa is 8. I remember being there when my sister-in-law learned she was pregnant with child #3.

The twins are 9, they hang on every word Ian says, fascinated by the boy. Their only brother is 2 years old. It shows.

Sarah is 6. She just wants to be included with the big kids.

And little Peter (little Peter to differentiate from big Peter) is two. Adorable. Precocious. He tries his mother’s patience, but makes the rest of us laugh a lot.

Kentucky Cabin

Kentucky Cabin

Kentucky Cabin

Kentucky Cabin

Kentucky Cabin

Kentucky Cabin

I want to treasure the memories. Islay showing us her gymnastics skills and recently-won medals. Tessa sitting on my lap to play Battleship. Sarah playing Sorry! over, and over, and over. The twins sharing their love of reading with me. Little Peter putting on a “show” (ie. turning the lights out and singing one line of “Let it Go”). Big meals shared around a giant table. Warm fires in the wood stove. So many wet boots, hats, mittens, and snow pants. Knitting and talking and more knitting. Hikes, walks, tromping through the snow. A truck stuck in the mud. Laughter. So much laughter. These are moment to cherish.

Kentucky Cabin

I desperately hope Husband can join us next year at this Kentucky cabin, and my DC brother. To be complete. It would mean so much.

Kentucky Cabin

Kentucky Cabin - Zipline

Kentucky Cabin - Zipline

Kentucky Cabin - Zipline

Kentucky Cabin - Zipline

Kentucky Cabin

Snowmageddon

Snowmageddon

They’ve been calling it “Snowmageddon” around here…nearly a foot of snow fell on Virginia Beach this week. It absolutely paralyzed everything. For two days, barely anyone has left home.

Husband and I spent some rare time together, drinking hot tea, playing with the pup, watching a zillion episodes of Psych, knitting, sledding, making mozzarella cheese and more. It was, in a word, lovely.

Ginger loving winter

Sledding

Husband in winter

Ginger

Snowy winter

Us

Making cheese

Playing with the pup

Snow Day (or lack thereof)

Snow Day (or lack thereof)

Snow Day!

It appears that nearly all of Virginia Beach had a snow day yesterday, and another today. Two inches of snow fell on top of a coat of ice and schools are closed for two days. As a Buffalonian, it’s humorous. But when all my friends are able to stay home and enjoy the surprise vacation, as Amy said in Little Women: “I wish I was Beth so I could stay at home and do pleasant things.” Alas, I trudged through the snow into work.

The last two evenings, however, as the world around us hunkered down to endure the weather, were entirely pleasant. With businesses closed and roads a mess, there was no urgency, no need, and no desire to go anywhere or get anything done. Our time was entirely our own — a rare and wonderful place to be.

We had a mini James Bond marathon (to make up for not watching 007 on Christmas) sitting on the couch under warm blankets, drank hot tea and chai lattes, made tasty food like chicken curry, and I even got quite a bit of knitting done. Our propane gas heat is out, but we’re making do with a few space heaters, rotating when and where we heat the house to keep the 7* air at bay.

Knitting

And we even got in a little outdoor play with the pup — a moment to cherish because this Northerner absolutely loves snow.

Playing with the pup in the snow

Yarn Along

Yarn Along

What I’m knitting, and what I’m reading

Reading Stitches and knitting

I’m reading Stitches by Ann Lamott for my ladies book club. I don’t think it’s a book I would have picked up on my own, which is the whole point of the book club — to be exposed to new and different books. Although I’ve heard of her, I’d never read anything by Lamott before, so this was new.

I also finished the back of my never-ending-shell while at the cabin after Christmas (is there any better place to knit than in front of a fire at a cabin in the mountains?). And I even started on the front… Here’s to hoping I finish my first garment this winter!

Joining Ginny at Small Things.

Deep breaths

Deep breaths

It’s time for deep breaths. Christmas is only eight days away. Moving day is 11 days away.

We signed the lease last night. We got the keys. We’re going to start moving things tomorrow. (A HUGE thank you to our landlord for letting us begin the process before the holidays!)

I keep telling myself to just be patient. Come January I’ll have time to read, and knit, and do all the wintry things I love to do. And sewing? I long to do a little sewing…

But I’m not sure it will happen. There will be the unpacking/settling period (although shorter, since most of our things will be in storage). And then there will be all the things that didn’t get done at the start of winter, like tax stuff, business stuff, etc. And then there are the time sensitive things like finishing Husband’s anniversary gift (I’m only three months late…), sorting and backing up all our photos before my computer crashes for good, etc.

So many things take precedence over enjoying a cup of tea and good book. It leaves me wondering why life has to be that way.

Christmas itself is often that way, isn’t it? Busy. So much to do. Shopping and wrapping and decorating and baking and parties to attend and on and on it goes.

I was recently bemoaning (again) our lack of Christmas this year. No tree. No lights. No real decorations to speak of. It’s all packed away. Along with most of our clothes, dishes, etc.

But someone at church gave me a big hug and said, “You know what? It makes for a simpler Christmas. One year, all I did was put up a tiny little tree and my family thought I was crazy, but it was so much less stressful than trying to do it all.”

It’s true.

Stress is pretty high right now, but it’s not Christmas stress. The few gifts we’re giving are already wrapped and ready to go. Even stocking stuffers, hidden away in closets, are prepared. Just a few cookies are baked (and already mostly eaten). The only decorations are a small train set, two stockings, and a nativity.

nativity

stockings

But even if we didn’t have those things, even if all we had was a Bible. Or even just Luke 2 (which I have mostly memorized, so maybe the Bible isn’t really necessary). It would still be a wonderful Christmas.

Just like Whos in Whoville showed, it isn’t the trappings that make Christmas special. In fact, they really aren’t necessary at all.

Christ is Christmas, and He is with us whether we have a tree or not.

Ginger helping wrap gifts

Ginger likes to “help” with the gift wrapping.

First snow

First snow

Barn in wintertime

When I stepped outside yesterday evening I felt it. Or rather, smelled it. That smell is so distinct for me — the scent of snow.

And in Virginia Beach, it doesn’t come around that often.

Sure enough, by the time I reached my truck it was apparent that little tiny flakes were flying. It wasn’t really cold enough, so it was a sort of wet/icy snow, and it melted upon landing. But it was snow.

I called Husband just to tell him.

I get excited like that. It’s the northerner in me.

Of course, the heat in our “new” home isn’t functioning properly (as in, not at all). So after freezing at the barn (really need to dig out some gloves), I put flannel sheets on the bed and spent the evening curled up under a warm quilt, sipping hot tea.

When we woke in the morning, it was in the low 30*s outside, and a chilly 58* inside. Space heaters and throwing a load of laundry in the dryer helped take the chill off.

The low tonight is supposed to be in the 20*s. Hopefully this afternoon the gas company will come to fill our fuel tanks and light the pilot, then maybe we won’t freeze. For now, I just feel sorry for the pup, who must endure the cold all day long. At least she has a nice, fluffy, fleece bed.

And, of course, in typical Virginia Beach fashion, it will be back in the 70*s by Sunday.

But at least for this northern heart, the brief flurry did a world of good.