Although I’ve lived in Northern California for over twenty years and my blood has acclimated to the year-round, mostly mild climate, part of me still longs for winter. And I mean the kind of winter that comes with minus temperatures and windchill factors, with gales that whip around the corners of buildings and freeze nose hair.
This year’s mild, rainy “winter” in California has resulted in the trees already bursting into bloom in February. The plum trees in our yard have exploded into pink puffballs, and the onion grass is the greenest of greens.
I love it, I do. I stand under the trees and let the blossoms fall on me like snowflakes, and lie down to capture what is growing through the unfinished stone path in our garden.
But I also long for the cold of my hometown in Canada, for the luxury of freezing toes and fingers while skating on the pond and then running home to a warm house for hot cocoa and the painful thawing of frozen feet over the heating vent.
So when there is an opportunity to fly home to visit my family, even if it is -21 celcius and the pond near my sister’s house has frozen into a perfect sheet of ice in just 24 hours, I gather up my daughter and we head toward our northeastern family with our inadequate coats and mittens stuffed into suitcases, thankful that her cousins have hand-me-down snowpants and scarves.
This week I have shoveled my sister’s driveway, put on many layers of warmth to venture outside with the kids to slide on the pond and run shouting for shore when we heard the ice crack, pulled over after a visit into the city to stand at the edge of the lake (still unfrozen, lucky for the ducks that have lingered here for the winter), and have mostly had a grin on my face the entire time.
I’ll be heading back to my other home soon, where the temperatures are like summer and the plum trees may have already dropped their blossoms, but in this winter month it’s the snow lying like a blanket over the fields and drooping off the edge of roofs; the sundogs in the bright, crisp late day skies; the soft light as flurries swirl around; and the pink cheeks on my nieces and my daughters when we come back into a warm house that I’ll dream about until spring officially arrives….