By Allen Hamrick
Winter time, the coldest and darkest season of the year, with short days and long nights as its justification is upon us. This is a time when we have trouble keeping a core temperature as our backsides are warm but our face is freezing. Hypothermia, frostbite, trench foot, and chilblains are the danger of the day. Old man winter blows his icy breath and freezes not only the rivers and streams but also every step you take on the icy grass. The very thought of it will either draw out your adventurous nature or make your skin crawl at the thought of its icy grip. Winter is a time when life and death are hinged upon degrees instead of natural causes. Beauty is abundant yet inside that beauty lays a breakdown of misfortune ready at the gate to take its toll on the unprepared. Winter is at its best on mountain slopes and back yards filled with skis, sleds and inner tubes with screaming people aged kids to adults. At winters call, humankind suddenly allows the white powder to take control of our apprehension and frees us to cheat death as our will is tossed to the wind. There are no reasoning skills when the brakes are let go, no assurance that the pine tree in front of you will move so you can get by. The thrill and adrenaline rush of strapping on a snowboard, ski, or inner tube and unchaining the chutzpah in a person’s intelligence is just too inviting for those who do it, and they go forth.
Winter, for most, is a daily struggle against the bitter cold whether it’s getting back and forth to the job or just waiting wrapped in a blanket for the next oak to drop on the lines and take away the only heat you have. A time when the unexpected is expected and anticipating spring is the only hope as we dig deep into our seed catalogs and start an order form. There is no season like winter; its heart of ice has shut down countries, wars and brought thriving cities to their knees. It is the cause of famine, wiping out whole villages and let’s not forget the ice age. Yet with all its brutality and unrelenting attempt to keep us a step behind, it is a time when opportunity for reflection, planning, and time to take stock of who, what, why, where and when during the seasons of motivation.
Winter provokes us to change who we are and how we do things because it reminds us that we are human, after all, and not just a bunch of people fueled by money, politics, and social media… at least when the snow is flying. A cup of coffee warms our blood as the wind takes the temperature below zero, and spring looks like it will be running from winter instead of to it. Days seem to get slower during the winter and for good reason. When the warm days are here, as we get older we complain how fast the days are passing so there again is opportunity. We promise ourselves we will be better prepared as we are fixing the busted water lines or trying to kick the generator to start. Yep, should have started it more often, should have had a get home bag for the truck, should have wrapped those water lines, should have chopped at least five more loads of wood, should have learned how to can food and the list goes on.
That will all change in the spring; it’s all put on a to-do list that slips under the couch until next winter. However, winter is a gift as long as we are prepared for it to the best of our abilities. We have to slow down to get our bearings for the up and coming year, and winter is the time to do it. Troubles will come, and sometimes they last, but there are always men and women that have our six when the lines hit the ground, there are always people who become generous who have prepared and take care of those that didn’t. Peoples’ hearts change during tough times and differences are set aside for the better good. Winter brings out the best of people and the worst, but through it all, winter is here for a reason. Whether you enjoy it or hate it, use it for what it is designed for. Most of all get out and enjoy it in whatever activity you choose. Snow biking, survival hiking, skiing, and sledding are just some of the opportunities to enjoy. This winter, reflect, enjoy, and slow down – you need it.