Solstice, 2020

It was 20 years ago when we spent the winter in Chicago after the birth of my youngest son. Unmoored and on the precipice of my life as a single parent, I ran away from home (to home.) The baby was relentlessly touch-hungry and spent all of his time attached to my body until we discovered the magic of the “vibro chair” into which I would buckle the clingy infant and proclaim “Set the vibro chair on stun!” before luxuriating in 20-30 glorious minutes of showering…or walking in the snow…or napping, maybe, unencumbered.

Before moving here, that was the last time I spent a significant amount of time in winter. My memories of the season before that are all disjointed, like snapshots from various periods in my life. The winter of my 25th birthday when I brought a boyfriend with me and he spent the entire time drunk and giggling, wearing woolen socks to the symphony. G & M threw me a big bday party and S’s girlfriend made spinach artichoke tip in a bowl made of bread and I still remember how delicious it was.

I remember snow on the ground when visiting my favorite pizza place with my mom when I would visit and in a blink I remember downtown in the little town where I lived – scurrying around buying gifts for everyone. I remember the winter the snow was dense and I was halfway to Clark Street when he yelled from Wellington “I LOVE YOU, L!”

I think it’s because holidays and birthdays that this time of year is so memorable, but also because the bite of the cold and the clarity in the air paints the brightest pictures.

Last year was our first year in Maine, and I have enjoyed reacquainting myself with winter. I’m taking things slow, but have been more present outdoors this year than last, due to the fact that I wake up every morning between 6-7 to let the chickens out. I try to get out to check on the birds on my lunch break, but by the time I’m off from work, it’s dark outside. A missed connection. If I’m not careful, the days sort of blend, one into another, without that shot of shifting landscapes to differentiate.

I just now realized the daylight hours are what I’m missing. The seasons here are so much more clearly defined than they were in Texas. I think I realized it last year, but this year I’m really FEELING it. I need to remind myself to linger outside in the mornings, and be intentional about going out on the weekends. I am always rewarded when I do.