Present Tense

The winter of my discontent…


This has been a particularly brutal winter and seeing as how it’s our first in this location, we didn’t quite know what to expect.

We figured that since we’d spent the last 14 years in the foothills and mountains of Colorado, there was nothing that northern Michigan could throw at us that we couldn’t handle.

We didn’t anticipate the worst winter in many years; a potential record-setter for misery.   Looks like we’re getting a taste of the old ‘worst case scenario’ right off the bat.

So, as I was looking out at what seems like the 1000th day in a row of snow, I started imagining what it would be like if I could strap into a time machine.  And the question arose:  would I go forward…or backward?

I’ve never been a live-in-the-past, go backward kind of person.  Oh, I have fond memories and I do admit that I’ve found myself longing to return to the college dorm for a few months of irresponsible nonsense, but overall, I tend to look ahead.

But, ‘ahead’ seems murkier than usual.  I’m not sure if it’s age or my still weakened mojo or some regrets that are leaking like a puddle, under my door of confidence.  It could be the weather and the cabin fever that my husband and I are suffering from.  Or maybe the lack of sunlight, which doesn’t seem like such a big deal until you experience it.

I guess what I’m admitting to is a desire to go back in time.  A year, two years…15 years, even.  There are things that I wish I could change or re-think or just do-over.  It’s entirely non-productive, but I can’t quite shake it.

The thing is, there is no way of knowing if a different decision or path or reaction would have resulted in a better outcome.  As one of my favorite Taoist proverbs teaches us, “Who’s to say what’s right or wrong; who’s to say what’s good or bad?”  We are faced with choices, every second of every day and we make them.  Period.  But still…what if, right?

So, let’s remember that we can only deal with right now; with this particular moment.  I can count on spring arriving sometime in the next few months.  Followed by summer, with its glorious warmth and sun and water.  The things we moved here for.

Then autumn and harvest arrive, bringing beauty so intense that you want to cry every time you crest a hill or turn a corner.  Then, winter returns and it’s time to go inside; time to re-new and reassess and nest and hunker down.  We need this time to re-connect with ourselves, for better or for worse.

After my dog Chili died this past October, a friend came over with a whole box full of spring bulbs to plant on her grave.  I was so grateful, but in so much pain, that I sleep-walked through the process.  We planted and covered the bulbs, as I had covered her little body and soul.  My friend could look ahead when I could not.

Those bulbs are resting under nearly 3 feet of snow, but in a few months, they will emerge in stages.  Crocus first, followed by daffodils and tulips.  A reminder that no matter how badly we want to go back, we can’t.  There is a rhythm and a familiar cycle, but it’s always propelling us forward and onward.

And so, here I am.  Right in the middle of the season that forces us to go inward; to rest and renew and struggle and squirm and wait.  So, there is the lesson.  Don’t struggle; don’t wait.  No past, no future, just now.  Ugh…so hard.

That first crocus will be a welcome sight and a reminder that we need periods of rest and death and destruction, in order for the new blooms to appear.  After this particular winter, I should sprout something magnificent when the time is right.

January 26, 2014 - Posted by | Musings | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,


  1. I have followed you for many years on MIX100 and was surprised when I found out you were from my home town of Battle Creek, MI and went to old high school and grew up in the same area that I did. I have lived in the Denver area for 37 years now and moved here for the same reasons that you are stating. Tons of cold, wet snow and lack of sunlight in the winter. I suffered terribly with SAD each winter but don’t have a problem in CO. I wondered how you were going to adjust and when I have hear your comments the last few times I can relate. I still have many family members in the BC area and they are also grumbling about the weather this winter as the worst they have had in many years. I know it will get better for you and I still miss the water and the fall colors. I have considered a few times of moving back by family but as I listen to your comments I know that I will stay in sunny CO and enjoy all that this climate offers. Spring will come soon and this will be a distant memory. Enjoy the beautiful area that you have moved to. I will be thinking of you as I listen to you on the radio each morning on my drive to work.

    Comment by Carole Sheridan | January 26, 2014 | Reply

    • Carole:
      Thanks for the comment. I guess everything involves a little bit of sacrifice. I now understand why everyone here revels in the summer and the beautiful days and evenings. This year, I’ll appreciate it all just a little bit more.
      Glad you took the time to write. The Mitten will always be here for you.

      Comment by janelondon | January 26, 2014 | Reply

  2. “Beginnings are messy.” That is one of the most realistic things my husband ever shared with me. We have started over many times and each scenario had an agonizing aspect while the good part stayed at bay, at least for a while. We moved 8 times, 2 kids flew the coop, we lost 7 pets, his beloved mother passed away, friends have gotten very ill and some have died.
    Each event made us start over in some way. At the time it felt like I had not grown or evolved at all because the hurt was deep and I had to find my way down a road that seemed unfamiliar.
    There were also feelings of deep loss and sometimes wondering if we had done the right thing.
    Wise hubby then continued that we were beginning something new but we were also grieving what was, good and bad. That pulls us in all directions, and that is normal. He continued that we were not starting from scratch. We were just at the beginning of another level, like starting a new level of Zelda. We had successfully gotten through the prior level. We graduated. And it hurts. And it’s scary. And it’s messy.
    It seems as if you are sharing this in an authentic way. That’s your style. It’s got to be healthy. I certainly have not done it in the past but I am learning from you. Thank you.
    My heart goes out to you. Seems as if this year it not only rained, it poured on you. Big storm, big cleanse. Deep breath, big sigh. Draw eyebrows on your new dog 🙂
    Love you.

    Comment by Erica T | January 26, 2014 | Reply

    • Erica,
      Thank you. That’s all I need to say. “Beginnings are messy”. Yes. I should get a t-shirt made:)

      Comment by janelondon | January 26, 2014 | Reply

  3. I completely understand! Having moved in July from sunny Denver to Milwaukee, I’ve encountered days in which I wonder if I will survive the winter. I returned to Colorado for a visit the first week of January and while there, I wondered if we had made a crucial mistake in moving. Our transition has been so much harder than I ever dreamed it would be, and yet it also feels critically important to wherever it is we are heading.

    Keep focusing on the crocus! I am focusing on my memories of running along Lake Michigan in the sunshine. It will be here again some day!

    Comment by hljeter | January 26, 2014 | Reply

    • Well sister, we’re in the same boat…or sled:) I just walked down to the mailbox and found our shipment of seeds for the garden. Spring IS coming. No matter where we live.


      Comment by janelondon | January 26, 2014 | Reply

  4. Loved your insight. Things to think about.

    Comment by Joan Glasgow | January 26, 2014 | Reply

  5. Jane, you are a mentor regardless if you know it or not.
    Thank you for sharing your experiences as they open eyes and souls and hearts. Thank you again for this!
    Our lives parallel in many ways. I can share more at a later time including the passion for skiing….)
    I would like to share with you an ah ha moment I experienced this fall.
    A co-worker/friend of mine lost her 26 year old son in an auto accident. This was devastating for so many reasons….her only son, anyone losing a child sucks, single parent, her life and reason for living, and the real kicker was if anything ever happened to her son, she would not be able to go on. Meaning we would lose her as well. Ugh.
    Oh, did I mention that he was a diabetic and had numerous health issues.
    My co-worker/ friend went to a church that hosted a Medium. After much persistency, the son and another relative came though.
    Sorry for my long intro as I would be ‘that’ caller to your radio show you need to move along…. But the intro is important. The message from the other side was this –

    WE think things have a beginning and and an end. Period.
    Really, things have an END and a beginning.

    Simple but Whoa! What an awesome realization!
    This has helped me move on from a mountain of obsticals I (also) experienced this past year.
    OH! What a relief to look from the south instead of from the north!
    Worth thinking on. Hope you will mull over this message from those who have walked the path and want to share.
    And…you are right! Spring WILL come!

    Comment by Terry Benesh | January 26, 2014 | Reply

  6. I have seen that medium, she is at that church every 3rd Thursday of month, I just bought gift certificate for private reading for a friend. Spring equinox in 52 days and we are ALL counting them! It really is the “circle of life” beginning leads to end leads to beginning again. Maybe it is time to tackle some project, like organize all your photos!

    Comment by Jessi | January 27, 2014 | Reply

  7. […] The winter of my discontent… […]

    Pingback by Winter of Discontent | jean's writing | February 20, 2014 | Reply

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