Embracing winter

Snow to shovel? Remember, it could be worse! This is Drew at Crater Lake, Oregon, in June (yes, June) 2000.

Snow to shovel? Remember, it could be worse!
This is Drew at Crater Lake, Oregon, in June (yes, June) 2000.

“Enduring winter is only a start– embracing winter is what you should strive for.  Winter gives a sense of purpose and saves one from a life of hedonistic self-gratification, lying around on a palm-shaded patio nibbling ladyfingers and posting selfies on Facebook.  You have promises to keep.  Miles to go before you sleep.  Also, a sidewalk to shovel.”
Garrison Keillor

Keillor speaks of winter with an authority that could come only from a native of someplace such as Minnesota.  I will gladly defer to his expertise, but take it from a southern girl: embracing winter is overrated.  Icy weather is totally optional for coziness. You can enjoy tea, coffee, hot cocoa and a toasty warm fire in forty-degree weather!

We all have our sidewalks to shovel, though, figuratively or literally.  I appreciate Keillor’s not-so-subtle reminder that life has seasons, and few of them are easy.  If you’re facing snowstorms, ice, gloomy drizzle or a to-do list that would overwhelm Martha Stewart, I wish you the fortitude and courage to embrace this January day.  I’ll close with another quote from Keillor:  “Most important, keep repeating the words: It could be worse.”

Pass me the ladyfingers!


  1. bobmielke

    I sometimes forget that there are outlying areas of Oregon that get lots of snow. I live in the valley that is Portland and we seldom get much. 2008 was the exception. Meanwhile eastern and southern Oregon get hammered year after year. My Hood is easily visible from Portland and is covered by snow year round. While visiting Timberline Lodge atop Mt Hood I’ve seen/driven through snow as deeply piled as shown in your photograph. I love snow.

    • Bob, the first time we ever went to Oregon, our boys saw snow for the first time they could remember (they were babies while we lived in Ohio) and yet when we drove from Mt. Hood to Portland just a short distance away, the weather was beautiful. This was in early April, but it still amazed me to have such variety within such a short distance. You live in a beautiful state.

      • bobmielke

        I live in paradise. Every type of weather and climate is within a 100 mile radius. There are mountains everywhere, 100s of miles of Pacific Ocean with beaches, rock formations , lighthouses and great sunsets. There are forest with more trees than you could count, river that run clean and pure loaded with salmon, trout and every type of fish you could want. There are high deserts with open range unlimited speed limits, so straight and flat you could let go of the steering wheel. There are flower and tree farms everywhere. There is the fruit loop near Hood River where cherries, apples, pears and hazelnuts abound. It’s all good.

        • Bob, it’s so refreshing to hear people praise the places they live. There’s far too much complaining in the world, and I have done my share of it. Having said that, what’s not to like about Oregon? I hope we are able to go there again.

          • bobmielke

            Only Wisconsin is allowed to whine with their cheese! 🙂

            • Well, with their snow, they deserve it. Actually I’d like to see Wisconsin. It’s one of the few states I’ve never visited even briefly.

              • bobmielke

                I stopped in Green Bay just for a few minutes. I was at a National BMW Motorcycle Rally in Escanaba, MI and rode to Wisconsin next door. Very beautiful place!

                • I always thought that it sounded very pretty.

        • Anon E. Moose

          Bob Mielke – have you ever heard of the acronym, B.R.A.S.H.?
          approaching the Oregon coast, on a clear day, from left to right, you see (from above 35,000 feet) Baker, Ranier, Adams, St. Helens, and Hood. At least that’s the way I can keep their order straight in my mind.

          • Hey, that’s clever. I didn’t even know all those names – not familiar with Baker or Adams.

          • bobmielke

            Actually I’ve never heard that term. Keep in I immigrated to Oregon 9 years ago from South Carolina, & St. Louis, MO. I’m not a native Oregonian.

            • Maybe that’s why you can appreciate it so much. Sometimes we tend to be too familiar with our home turf to see all the things that make it special.

  2. Anon E. Moose

    What are ladyfingers? I vaguely remember that may be one of the Nabisco products – certainly not a salient memory in the family playbook, like “Goucho”. There the four siblings were, before ground was ever broken for Disney World, we were in our own room! At Disneyland. Who knows how much Dad paid for that Nabisco Variety pack of cookies, from the hotel gift shop? It had Lorna Doons, Oreos, and other cookies – the names of which ended with an “s”, because there were at least three or four – but no “s” on Gaucho – No. And it was featured right in the middle of the display, because it was the very best! Needless to say a fight ensued . . .

    • Here are the only ladyfingers that come to mind for me; I am a Trader Joe’s addict so I guess that makes sense. I think you may be right that there were some cookies by that name in that Nabisco box that Daddy gave us at HoJo’s in Anaheim. Not the real thing, those Nabisco “ladyfingers,” but a namesake meant to conjure notions of a true ladyfinger. BTW, Nabisco didn’t intentionally leave the “s” off the Gaucho; that is how they were branded. I will always be grateful to the marketing genius who designed that package and gave us laughter that has lasted almost half a century now.

  3. Ha! Good morning, Julia!
    As another native Minnesotan, I can tell you that embracing winter is about survival – survival of the spirit, as well as physical survival.
    Those who hole themselves up to whine about winter suffer most. On the other hand, if you consider that just once per year (OK, so it’s six months of the year) you can play in the snow right outside your door, cross country ski, and ice skate for virtually free, winter seems like a gift! A vacation, almost. And shoveling keeps one’s heart healthy.
    This has been a public service announcement … Last night I was browsing flights to Phoenix or San Diego. 😀

    • Susan, thanks for that public service announcement! A very valid reminder of all the things to love about winter. As a young girl, I used to dream of such winter wonderlands. I think it’s getting older that has made me such a weather wimp. Until I starting having to shovel snow, I didn’t realize how easy it was to get hot and sweaty in the cold. I’ve found that some nice sunshine goes a long way to brace me and give me the heart to get out in it and have fun. But a getaway to Phoenix or San Diego wouldn’t be bad right now!! Let me know if you find any $39 fares from the east coast!

  4. Sheila

    Hey, I’ll drink (coffee) to that! ☕️ I just happen to have some delicious ladyfingers that a friend sent me for Christmas. 😉 We’ve been teased this week with high 60’s temps and sunbeams. It’s hard to beat that in January. I hope others are enjoying a beautiful week! ☀️

    • Sheila, Anon E. Moose was just asking about those ladyfingers. Maybe he can share a virtual coffee with you. We have gorgeous sunshine and temps in the high 40’s today. It’s bound to be a good day because I just filled up the car for 99 cents per gallon! (1.99 at Exxon, less my Safeway gas point discount of 1.00 per gallon). Speaking of being teased about the weather, some of the schools were on a two hour delay today for no reason I could see. I think they’ve gotten to the point that they call delays when there is even the possibility of a few flakes blowing around. Hey, Virginia is part of the south and we don’t do snow very well down here. 😀

      • Sheila

        Yes, I could share with Mr. Moose, but I often ration the FINER things ~~~ just saying! 😍 I enjoyed the funny exchanges of comments. Never a dull moment, right? 👏

        • Mr. Moose knows all about rationing. He learned it from Nabisco with the single Gaucho cookie they put in their assortment. 😀 No, there is never a dull moment for me, although there have been some who suggest I am too easily amused. My good fortune, I say.

          • Sheila

            I’m all about easily amused, easily entertained, and easily delighted. Just last week I bought two of the brightest yellow Fiesta dish towels (go with nothing) and they so lifted my winter spirits. As I hung them on my oven door, I thought, “Oh, I must tell Julia!” You’re such a special friend. 😍

            • Sheila, I love yellow! My room when I was a teenager had bright yellows in the carpet and bedspreads, and I always thought the sun bouncing off it helped me wake up in the morning. Yellow goes with everything! 😀 Thanks for reminding me of one of my favorite colors. The daffodil is my favorite flower.

          • Anon E. Moose

            I just clicked “Like” to the too easily amused. (I believe there’s no such thing.)

            • 😀 I agree! 😀

  5. Love it!

    • Thank you Barb! I’m glad you love it; people in Illinois are bound to understand what Keillor is talking about! Hope you and your family are doing well.

  6. Jack

    When I was a little younger, I pined after the next season. From summer, fall. Fall, winter. Now that I’m a little longer in the tooth, they all come too darn quickly. I came home from my workaday life out of town for an extended 19 day Christmas holiday on December 17, more than a month ago, and those 19 days passed in the blink of an eye. Today, it seems like just yesterday I was walking onto that airplane.

    Only 337 shopping days left until Christmas! Hurry up!!

    • Oh, NO! Only 337 days? I’d better get busy!!! No kidding, I can so identify with this business of everything coming too close together. All of us have days that are so packed full that the time just zooms by. In a way, it would seem to be the opposite; that lots of stuff going on would make the time seem longer, or at least more full. The average person living today experiences more in one year, in some respects, than a person might have experienced in an entire lifetime a few generations ago. Certainly we travel as much in a year as many people did in one lifetime. I guess that means we are fortunate, but also carry the burden of responsibility to be using those blessings wisely.

  7. Carolyn

    Oh my, what a snow bank! I have been wondering if we will get snow any time, it makes things so pretty. You know how Memphis is when they say snow. I always enjoy your pictures and blog. You all have a great week end. Please keep us updated on Jeff. Love and hugs to all

    • Carolyn, Virginia isn’t much better about calling everything off at the first sign of snow. I think the traffic woes are the biggest thing everyone worries about. It’s pretty to see the snow as long as I don’t have to get out in it! 😀 I’m so happy you like the blog. It’s been wonderful to be in touch with you here. We will keep you posted, and you do the same for us! ❤

  8. The major blessing I find in winter is coming in from the cold. And my major prayer is for those who lack the shelter to do so.

    • Tony, how true! I am so thankful for our climate-controlled homes. The churches in our Tidewater area get together to host shelters for people who are without homes during winter. Different church buildings open their fellowship halls and classrooms, and people from all different denominations get together there and host the people, furnishing dinner, linens and padding for the floors where they sleep. It always surprises me to see how many people are waiting outside in the cold for the doors to open. It’s a great reminder of how many reasons we have to be thankful.

  9. Julia…Greetings from another southern girl! Love your picture! but from a distance 🙂
    I’m not fond of winter sports…definitely over rated! Enjoying hot tea or cocoa during 40% temps is my idea of winter sports! 🙂

    • Merry, I agree that snow is prettiest when seen through a window from a cozy tea table sitting in front of a fireplace. 😀 Not that I have that, but if I’m imagining, I can have anything. I got out and walked today and the temp said 50, but it was windy so I still got a bit chilly. But the sun was beautiful and I kept thinking how nice it was to have these mild temperatures here at the end of January. In six months we’ll be drinking that tea ICED! Hope you have a nice weekend.

  10. Amy

    My favorite Keillor quote is, “Life is what you make of it. Make the best of it.” He says his mother used to say that all the time. It’s very true but hard to behave that way some days. Hope you are well. Looking forward to our visit. Love you.

    • Amy, that’s another one of those sayings that are wonderful to embrace but hard to live up to. It’s like the one I often say to myself when I’m trying to talk myself into getting up each morning: “To be happy, don’t do whatever you like, like whatever you do.” I don’t know who said that, but when I get the hang of it I’ll be jolly all the time. I’m looking forward to our visit, too! See you soon.

  11. Julia,
    I agree. Winter is a time to hunker down, slow down and energize for the outdoor seasons ahead. So self indulge abit within reason, recharge the batteries and take comfort in knowing that the light of day is lasting longer.
    p.s. A gentle invite- I’ll be posting a new short essay by Monday. I know you’re not a follower, so won’t be notified by email.

    • Alan, I have been noticing the days getting ever-so-slightly longer. I watch for it eagerly each year; it’s part of the fun of winter. I was supposed to be following your blog, but I checked and WP must have somehow dis-enrolled me (I have heard of that happening) so I’m back on now. Thanks for letting me know. I hope you have a wonderful weekend!

  12. HarryS

    What Plays in the Background?

    Well I am disgruntled and slightly discombobulated. I feel a wee bit of confusion which has been present to some extent over the last several days so what is different in my daily routine which may contribute? The most major thing is coping with doing right-handed tasks left-handed such as using this right-handed mouse left-handed. And there are many others of course such as eating, preparing the coffee, cracking an egg, sleeping, bathing, dressing, latching the seatbelt etc.; it goes on and on.
    For instance, I feel the tension as I am manipulating the mouse over this Word document I am composing and I certainly am not typing; I am using a voice dictation system which transcribes into text. Were it not for this there would be no written reflection this morning.
    I only have four more days of being hampered by a right-handed wrist splint so I am really looking forward to that day.
    I pray for God’s comfort.
    God’s comfort also includes strength.
    God sustains me.

    • Harry, I am so sorry about your injury. Ashleigh Brilliant (whom I often quote here) is also recovering from a broken wrist, and he said having the dominant arm out of service has been more challenging for him than a broken leg was a couple of years ago. I appreciate your leaving us a message here, despite the effort it must have required. I will pray for a swift recovery, and the joy of having the splint removed soon. Be sure to let us know how you are doing. I am glad you are “leaning on the everlasting arms.”

  13. LB

    No doubt … it could always be worse!
    I;m waiting for the BIG SNOW, Julia. BIG! 🙂

    • LB, how much snow did you get up there in the mountains? When we got back to Alexandria today, there was still some snow on the ground. I remember being so surprised and disappointed that when we went driving on the Blue Ridge Parkway in early October one year, portions of it were already closed for snow! I bet it is really beautiful though, like a Currier and Ives post card.

  14. Michael

    Yesterday I was talking to my friend who lives down at the coast-two hours west. He told me we are, “having a terrible winter. It’s just terrible. We had three days under 40 degrees.” It took me a moment to realize he is kidding. And yesterday we set another record high for January in Seattle of 64 degrees. Of course if you are a skier it is kind of a bummer for you.
    Meanwhile my son Kris is staying home today as they shut down the Subway system in New York- the City.

    • Michael, this past week we were enjoying tropical temperatures (75-80) and feeling thankful NOT to be dealing with the snow. As Jeff keeps reminding us, winter is now more than half over (we hope) and the days are already getting longer, slowly but surely. How strange that Seattle is having such warm weather already! Enjoy it while you have it. I wonder whether this will confuse the bulbs into blooming early?

  15. Rene

    Also reporting from the South (of California): after a New Year’s with snow on the mountain a mile away (but not, sadly, in our yard like in 2002) & the cold killing many of the new plants in our yard, it has been in the 70s & 80s all week. I painted my toenails for a party last night.

    • Rene, thanks for the reminder that snow does fall even in sunny CA. 70’s and 80’s sound lovely; it’s freezing again today and a very light dusting of ice on the ground this morning. I can’t complain though, it has not been a bad winter at all. I don’t have a party scheduled but I need to follow your example and paint my toenails! Even if only I see it, it will be a mood booster and a great way to say “spring is COMING!!!” Thanks for being here.

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