Having been born in Cincinnati, Ohio, raised in Greenfield, and schooled in Dayton, I am, of course, a Midwesterner. During the course of our forty-year marriage, my husband and I have not strayed far. We’ve been Buckeyes, Badgers and now, Hoosiers. A few years ago I retired, but my husband, a business owner, still works twelve-hour days and often on Saturdays and Sundays. Those who know him assume that he will not enjoy retirement but, the truth be told, he is looking forward to it.
My husband has never been a complainer, but lately I have heard him muttering about the05 Indiana winters. Recently, he has been talking about becoming a Snowbird, once retired, and is mulling over the possibilities. Even though I find myself dreading the coming winter I cannot quite drum up enthusiasm for moving south, or west. My younger sister, from Columbus, Ohio, moved to Arizona in April and has frequently e-mailed me lauding the beauty of the mountain views she enjoys while having coffee on her deck. Her recent Facebook boast of how she is looking forward to not spending another winter in Columbus hurt just a bit. It’s true that a mountain view and the ocean’s waves certainly top the cornfields of Indiana, so why does the thought of leaving winter behind come with a hint of sadness?
Now I know all the reasons for escaping winter when one is a senior citizen. Being somewhat nostalgic, however, I tend to reflect too much on the good times of the past and find it difficult to move on. While in our thirties, living in Wisconsin, it was challenging to make our way down an icy driveway to retrieve the morning paper, but not perilous. While shoveling the snow was tedious and seemingly non-stop the winter of 1978-1979, we enjoyed the camaraderie of going house to house, helping out our neighbors, and ended up with hot buttered rum in front of someone’s fireplace. We were red cheeked but robust and were not checking our pulses.
Winters of our early married years have long since passed but the memories haven’t faded. They bring to mind images of endless fun in the snow with our children. I can’t help but think that our sons would somehow have been deprived had they not played in the snow, sipped hot chocolate on a frosty day, or even gotten their tongues stuck to a swing set one frozen January. Then, too, the winter of my own youth always brought with it the promise of a white Christmas, caroling in the cold and making angels in the snow. Yes, I associate winter with warmth, love and excitement.
I must admit, also, that I truly do enjoy getting out of bed, feeling the chill of the house on a winter’s morning and the comfort of pulling on that nice soft robe. There is even something soothing about the coldness of the tiles under my feet as I pad into the kitchen for my morning coffee. I love curling up in my favorite chair by the hearth, mug in hand while enjoying the warmth of the fireplace. Surely I would miss the sound of the silent snow and the ice glistening on the tree branches, were I to go.
But then, the question truly is not, to go or not to go; we will go. My husband has always managed to see plans through. The question is, how will I feel under the Arizona sun or on a beach in Florida when I hear the first Christmas bells of December?