by Janis Susan May/Janis Patterson
It’s been a brutal winter so far, and for some of us it’s far from over. The news has been saturated with shots of gigantic snowdrifts and ice-choked lakes. It’s a dangerous time, when just the simple act of going to work can be life-threatening – if you can get there at all. Even here in the southern part of the country we are coated in ice and a huge number of schools and businesses are simply closed as we struggle to keep warm.
But, once all are well and safe at home, there are compensations. The work of spring – cleaning up and planting the garden, for example – is still safely locked in the future. There is only so much that can be done in the house and, in this season of hunker-down-and-keep-warm there is a disinclination to do housework. (For some of us there is always a disinclination to do housework whatever the season, but that’s the subject for another blog!) The power supply can be iffy, but there are the alternatives of fireplaces and candles and lots of quilts, all in a perhaps unwilling imitation of our pioneer forefathers’ lives.
Don’t get me wrong – I would have made a lousy pioneer. I like my modern conveniences, but still on occasion I can handle the primitive life, if for no other reason than to foster an appreciation of my current electrically powered and well-insulated lifestyle.
When the failure of electricity takes away the TV and radio and computer, we are forced back onto the old methods of amusement – reading, or charades, or board games, or (gasp!) just talking to each other. Of course, you can do these things with the power on, too, but when the power is on families unfortunately tend to fragment into their own spheres.
Whether you have power or not, when you are left to your own devices there is always reading. Even when the weather outside isn't frightful, there is an atavistic comfort in bundling up in quilts, perhaps in front of a cheery blaze if you are fortunate enough to have a fireplace, and reading a book. It doesn’t make any difference if it is a paper or an electronic book, though electronic readers will have to be recharged sometimes, which is a vote on the side of paper books… Anyway, add a cup of hot chocolate and a plate of cookies or, should you be so inclined, a nice hot toddy, and the scene takes on a positively desirable quality.
I realize that it might be considered simplistic or deliberately naïve to even think of taking pleasure from what to so many is close to a national tragedy. On the other hand, my grandmother always said the weather is inevitable, so if it’s going to happen anyway I believe we should go ahead and take what joy we can from it, even as we dream of spring. Happy reading!