I awake each morning to more snow upon the ground. Its depth makes trudging from my cabin to the main building a workout. It is so cold that my breath freezes on contact with the air. My whole body is filled with a bitter chill freezing every part of me which makes it harder to move through the snow. Each breath I take in must be defrosted as it enters my mouth and nose and makes its way down into my lungs. It never really thaws. It chills all the internal organs of my body. By the time I reach the main building I can barely breathe or move.
On stepping inside the building I stand frozen and try to catch my breath. I begin the slow process of thawing out as I peel off my gloves, finger by finger. I take a deep breath and then remove my scarf, breathe and then my hood, another deep breath then little by little wiggle out of my coat. I stand still and breath some more deep breathes before I struggle to pull off my boots. Discarding the layers one by one is such a relief. I can feel myself breaking free with each garment I remove. It is what keeps me continuing to remove them despite being frozen.
I hate wearing all this outerwear. I held off wearing it for as long as I could, but at Thanksgiving, I was finally forced to put my winter coat on. I find it all cumbersome and restricting. Wearing all these garments I am imprisoned. Bundled in all this clothing limits my movements, I want to be free. I want to dance in the wind. These boots and heavy coat make it impossible to dance at all or maybe it is just the frigid cold that stops all expressive movement in my body.
With tiny shuffling steps, I make my way towards the dining room to get that hot cup of tea I desperately need. Nimbly I move my hands to pick up the teacup, the tea bag, and pour hot water into my cup. I wrap my still cold hands around the warm mug before raising it to my lips sucking in the warmth of the steam as it rises into the air. I take a sip rolling it around inside my mouth warming my teeth and gums. Gradually I let it slide down my throat. It takes several sips before my throat and esophagus begin to warm. It takes the whole cup before my lungs are warm again. Still, it has barely unfrozen the rest of me. Now, however, I can begin to move. Moving is the only way that will generate enough heat within my body to defrost the rest of me.
As much as I cannot handle the frigid cold outside, I go stir crazy being shut in all day. In the middle of the day, the sun is high enough to be able to feel her warmth even in the bitter cold. As long as the wind has died down I can go outside to inhale the beauty of the fresh crisp air. When I have to move from the main building to the Sisters' house I gladly bundle up although I put on as little as I can get away with; boots, coat and maybe my scarf if the wind is blowing. I will reluctantly put on my gloves if my fingers being to freeze as I walk along the paths between the buildings.
Oh yes, winter has arrived in all her splendor and glory. I have decided I don’t like snow. Once upon a time, I loved winter. I loved snow glistening in the sun, covering the trees, sleigh rides, hot cocoa and a fire burning in the fireplace. Now I don’t want to deal with any more snow and I absolutely hate the cold. The thought of months and months of trudging through mounds of snow with the cold wind chilling me through to my bones is already making me want to high tail it to some Caribbean Island. Why couldn’t I have found a way to hide out on some warm beautiful Caribbean Island with the sand, sea and sun!
Thanksgiving finds me away from the center for the first time since I arrived here. Myra has insisted I spend the weekend at her home with her family thinking it will help ease any loneliness I feel of not being with my own family this holiday season. It is good to see her and spend time with her.
I am anxious about being out of the security and protection of the center and apprehensive about being back in the outside world. It is always awkward for me to be in someone else’s house never mind around their family and friends whom I don’t know. Thanksgiving at Myra’s is her traditional potluck dinner. Family and friends are all gathering each bringing a dish that makes Thanksgiving special to them. Myra and her husband are providing the turkey as her contribution as well as opening her home. People come streaming in each with a dish. The buffet is overflowing with food of all kinds. Here I have a glimpse into other people’s traditions for Thanksgiving.
I am lost in this crowd of people who are all excited to be together. I am a stranger in their midst. People greet each other who haven’t seen each other for a while. Others see each other more often. Everyone is waiting excitedly for their favorite dish of someone else’s that they always bring. Many of them are talking about a sweet potato pie. I have never had sweet potato pie since my mom never even served us sweet potatoes.
I remember for years that my mom prepared a special potato for our great Aunt Dot but we were never told what it was or even offered to try one ourselves. It wasn’t until years after I was married that I found out what it was she served my aunt. I was an adult before I tried it and discovered how delicious it was! So I too was excited to try this famous sweet potato pie. It lived up to all the praise. It was delicious! I think it was my absolute favorite of all the new dishes I tried that day.
Now back at the center I am preparing to celebrate Christmas and New Year’s away from my family. I have never spent the holidays away from family before. I must admit that the center is beginning to feel like home and the people here like family to me. There is no panic or disappointment stirring in me yet. I have no desire to return home for the holidays.
Click Follow to receive emails when this author adds content on Bublish