Wednesday, December 21, 2016

We Bring the Earth Inside

I grew up in Missouri where the winters were harsh. My hands would crack from the cold and my mom would rub utter cream my dad brought home from his work at the farm. She would cover our hands in thick lotion that felt more like butter, and cover them with our socks right before we fell asleep. I have memories of driving country roads at night with my family. Cold and bundled in the car, driving home from my uncle's out in the middle of no where and seeing snowflakes hitting the windshield. The harshness of winter brings out the comfort of home. My dad always had firewood chopped and ready in the driveway. He would carry in loads and tend the fire all morning. My dad is the hardest worker I know, and never missed a day of work, unless the country roads were covered in snow. Then my brother, sister, and I woke to slow morning with a fire. My dad would always be in his gray sweatpants, his red flannel shirt, and drinking hot tea. Which I never saw him do any other time. And of course, watching The Price is Right. Winter had forced us to relax. To stop and take a deep breath.

Austin winters are different from Missouri. They feel like they are never actually coming. All my friends who aren't from Austin keep going on about how hot it is, how fall or winter will never come. But, after a few years here I have a new hope. Winter will come. Slowly but beautifully. This last week it has been quite cold. Below freezing, in the twenties. This is cold enough for me. We buy wood and start a fire and can drink warm drinks all day. It gets cold enough to need to feel warm. To bring the earth inside and watch the wood burn in the fireplace. I wake and start a fire first thing. Then I brew coffee, and I snuggle the kids while they watch a show. The younger two like to have their diapers changed right by the fire. It's warm and they like to watch the flames while they lay there. I huddle us all up like we live in such a cold and desperate time. But it's still Austin. Soon the sun will shine and we won't even need a sweater.

Maybe all of this is just an extended fall. The weather playing back and forth between hot and cold. The dirt is cold and the Texas sun is big and warm. A dying spring of sorts. Leaves fall and cripple under the weight of dropping temperatures but then comes the sun blaring through the bare trees. I never thought I could feel a bit obsessed with the weather, but it really does bring inner change. I have found myself wanting to slow down. To breath. There may not be snow on country roads, but hats and mittens on babies is enough trouble to stay home. For every day we run or go out to explore, the other half of me wants to sit and be still. Andrew crochets. I read and take baths. The girls ask to crochet and make scarfs out of a tangled web of yarn. Foster sits by the fire, raising things in his hand making me always wonder if he will throw that object into the flames. I am convinced God made the seasons just as he did the days. To move and grow and to become weary, and then to end and change just as we need it to, the bright light turning dark, or spring buds starting to bloom. The seasons carry me, and for now, we bring the earth inside when its cold and step out when the sun is shining.

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