A Message for Old Man Winter


We should have known it was coming–the “woolly worm” told us so months ago. And if the narrow brown stripe on its woolly little back weren’t enough scientific evidence of the brutality that lay ahead, then the spoon-shaped persimmon seeds served as back-up confirmation: It was going to be a bitterly cold winter with too much snow to shovel and too many icy winds to endure.

That nasty Old Man Winter (or “Jack Frost,” as his friends call him) made his official entrance in these parts a few weeks ago, grasping us firmly within his arthritic, arctic clutches, sending us slip-sliding every which way but forward and making a complete mockery of that whole “global warming” theory. If he had crept in quietly and gently, I could have tolerated–even enjoyed–his visit, but apparently the cantankerous Old Man was in no mood for such pleasantries, and now neither am I.

I did forgive the old coot after his first bout of wickedness dumped almost eight inches of snow and ice on my landscape and isolated me at home for over a week. So what if my car couldn’t make it out of the driveway? My refrigerator was stocked with goodies, and I had online shopping to occupy my days and a stack of good books to comfort my nights. And besides, that billowing softness draped my woods in a blanket of whispering beauty that beckoned me and my camera to walk and marvel in its midst.

But his next little frosty tantrum has left me and everyone else screaming, “Enough!” For the past two days–with the ground once again buried beneath snow-covered ice and with temperatures below zero and wind chills 30 degrees below that–it has been colder in southwest Missouri than in Anchorage, Alaska. And that’s just not right.

So here’s my message to you, Old Man: Hit the road, Jack. The calendar may indicate you have another two months to visit, but you’ve already out-stayed your welcome, so pack up that little “polar vortex” of yours and head back north–way north–where you belong. And don’t you come back (no more, no more).

I thought maybe the roaring inferno that blasts on and off (and on and off) within this ol’ body would be enough to ward off the frigid winds that blast into the room every time the dogs think they need to go outside and then reconsider as soon as the door is opened. But no. Not even sky-rocketing hot flashes have been enough to combat this cursed evil. I want to re-locate the dogs and claim as my own that slant of sunshine on the kitchen floor, curling into a tiny ball beneath a mountain of covers while filling the room with hot air via an online, slumber-inducing broadcast of the Rush Limbaugh Show.

I’m tired of being cold.

Sure, these winter days have a few saving graces (although not enough to suit me). Being stuck at home has allowed me to test my resolve on a few New Year’s resolutions regarding diet and exercise (and has taught me how to gracefully accept defeat). I’ve had the time for (and pleasure of) ridding the cabinets, counters and fridge of all their sugary and salty sins–all without much fear of repercussions because I’m quite certain that intake has been counterbalanced by the water weight lost from all the liquid draining from my nostrils every time I come in from the cold. And if that drainage hasn’t been sufficient, then shivering uncontrollably has certainly helped me to burn billions and billions of calories–which means I will soon be the size of a pencil.

But until that time, the requisite seven layers of clothing perfectly conceal any body imperfections, like the protective layer of winter blubber around my middle and the untamed forest growing below my knees. Thanks to gale-force winds and electrifying static, my hair has unbelievable volume, and thanks to my aching joints, I can predict with absolute certainty when the next storm front will be rolling through (and can stock up on salty and sugary goodies in advance of it). Attempting to pry open my frozen car doors and then trekking on foot to the mailbox provide a great cardiovascular workout (and give me numerous opportunities to scream my frustrations into the white-washed hills).

And with every icy breath I breathe in, I can take some small comfort in knowing that in the woods just beyond my door legions of ticks and chiggers and fleas are dying a frost-bitten death and will not be around to accost my summer fun.

So, it’s all good, right?

No, no, it’s not.

But it will be. We’ll be getting more freezing rain tonight (my hips told me so), but soon temperatures will begin their gradual climb (they have to), and daffodils and crocuses will begin peeping through the melting mess. Spring will be murmuring a sigh of sweet relief in just a little over two months, baseball season will be following on her heels, and flip flop season will be strolling in right after that. And by then this dreadful winter will be nothing more than a bad memory.

And if that stupid groundhog tries to tell me otherwise a few weeks from now–if he even thinks about predicting another six weeks of this nonsense–then there’s a very good chance I’ll be stomping my boots all the way to Pennsylvania to force feed him woolly worms and persimmons before using his fat little body to wrap ever-so-tightly around the neck of one Old Man.

So there.

(And to all my friends in the northern states and Canada, my apologies for being such a whiner. I truly do not understand how–or for Heaven’s sake why–you tolerate this nonsense every year.)

woods

The woods were “lovely, dark and deep” following our first snowfall . . . 

icicles14

Icicles hanging from bluffs on a creek near our home . . . 

icicles5

And one little droplet falling from one little icicle . . . 

cardinal12

A male cardinal munching on stolen dog food . . . 

bluejay

A blue jay playing peek-a-boo . . . 

sunset1-5-14

And a “fire and ice” sunset over the lake.

To see even more of my photos, you can “like” my new Facebook page, Iced Tea with Lemon–Prints and Prose by Karen S. Eubank.

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About icedteawithlemon

I have recently retired from a 30-year career in education in one of the best school districts in the world. I hope to spend my second life reading, writing, photographing, traveling, biking, cheering on my favorite baseball team (the St. Louis Cardinals), and soaking up glorious sunshine. In my spare time I enjoy playing with my pet tarantulas, trying out new flavors of chewing gum, and knitting socks for prison inmates. I'm almost positive that in a past life I was one of the Seven Dwarfs (most likely "Grumpy"), and in my next life I'm going to be either a taste tester for Hershey's or a model for Victoria's Secret's new line, "Bloomers for Boomers." I want to travel country back roads, singing Vanilla Ice songs at every karaoke bar and rating bathroom cleanliness at every truckstop. And someday I plan to own a private beach where skinny girls aren't allowed. I want to be a writer when I grow up. "Our truest life is when we are in dreams awake."--Henry David Thoreau
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16 Responses to A Message for Old Man Winter

  1. Janet Taber says:

    You created some interesting mental images for me in there, which gave me a laugh this morning — but I happen to love winter and so don’t share your disdain for it. Take heart — we’re looking toward a nice weekend. In the meantime, bundle up and keep that fabulous photos coming!

    • Thank you, Janet–and I’m glad I could make you laugh this morning. I don’t usually mind the crispness of winter (too much)–I can handle our typical mid-30s temperatures, but when those temperatures plummet to around zero (and below), I can find no joy and long for the warmer days of spring. And I don’t usually mind spending day after day at home–until road conditions FORCE me to.

  2. Donna says:

    Mrs. E ~ you have done it again. I thoroughly enjoyed this blog. I DO NOT like being cold, therefore winter is not my time of year. If I had the opportunity to hibernate with the bears, I so would. About the only thing I like about this time of year is the smell of wood-burning fireplaces, and I haven’t even been able to enjoy that since it’s too cold for me to get out and breath in the smoke aroma air. Just know, I will happily drive you – have Jeep that will go anywhere – to Pennsylvania if Punxsutawney Phil makes the wrong call in a few weeks. Also, I love the Fire and Ice photo; it is in my top 5 favorites of all your photos.

    • Thank you, Donna! I’m glad you like the photo–sunsets over the lake are my favorites. And I love a pretty snowfall that sticks around just long enough for me to admire it and photograph it, and then I’m ready for it to move on and for winter to be done. A road trip with you to Pennsylvania might be just the ticket to beat these winter doldrums. 😉

  3. Randy Desgranges says:

    Deb and I have lived in Florida for so long we are truly thin blooded, but I do miss Winter in Missouri….and Fall. Oh…and Spring. And Summer. Thanks you.

    • I wish to keep Fall … and Spring … and definitely Summer. But if I could wrap up Winter in a sturdy, big box, I would gladly send it your way. We were in Key West at the end of October–riding our bicycles and walking around in shorts and flip flops. I’m pretty sure that’s the closest I’ve ever been to Heaven on earth.

  4. Mary Fritz says:

    As usual, you are “right on”! This weather is so crazy! But alas, next Thursday I leave for 3 weeks in FL (Orlando, the Keys and Naples). I am being a show off by saying that but it is keeping me sane thinking of tropical winds to come.

    • I don’t think you’re being a show-off at all–just lucky! We all do whatever we can to tolerate these conditions–in my case, unfortunately, I spend way too much time napping and looking for things to eat!

  5. jeanjames says:

    Your pictures are soooo beautiful! I too am in a deep freeze here in NY. Lost the heat for a couple of hours today, and couldn’t feel my fingers. Thank god it’s back on. This kind of winter is definitely a spectator sport!

    • Yikes, Jean! I’m glad your heat is back on–and hope it stays that way. From what I’ve seen on the weather maps, the situation looks much worse where you are than where I am; it’s just in my neck of the woods we’re not used to or prepared for this. Hurry up, Spring!

  6. Ms. Karen (well, yeah, you!) wrote: “And to all my friends in the northern states and Canada, my apologies for being such a whiner. I truly do not understand how–or for Heaven’s sake why–you tolerate this nonsense every year.”

    Nonsense!? Nonsense!? Why, how can a Canuck BE a Canuck sans Old Man Winter and his crotchety, wicked weather tantrums? We Canadians (and the Northern Yanks) are quite the tough bunch, and I for one simply adore winter…hmm…well, until a glance out of my frozen kitchen window on a late cloudy and quickly darkening afternoon in January makes me feel as if I’ve been dropped into the pages of a Russian novel penned by one Mr. Leo Tolstoy…THEN, I admit, I do sigh and long for spring.

    Or, to put it better, here’s a great quote by Yoko Ono:

    “Spring passes and one remembers one’s innocence.
    Summer passes and one remembers one’s exuberance.
    Autumn passes and one remembers one’s reverence.
    Winter passes and one remembers one’s perseverance.”

    And here’s a couple more winter quotes fer ya:

    “I wonder if the snow loves the trees and fields, that it kisses them so gently? And then it covers them up snug, you know, with a white quilt; and perhaps it says “Go to sleep, darlings, till the summer comes again.” – Lewis Carroll, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland & Through the Looking-Glass

    “Are the days of winter sunshine just as sad for you, too? When it is misty, in the evenings, and I am out walking by myself, it seems to me that the rain is falling through my heart and causing it to crumble into ruins.” – Gustave Flaubert

    Okay, that last one by Gustave was a tad depressing, so I shall close with an upbeat, sunny and lighthearted winterish quote for your find Confederate mind to ponder…courtesy of Willie Shakespeare…

    “That time of year thou mayst in me behold
    When yellow leaves, or none, or few, do hang
    Upon those boughs which shake against the cold,
    Bare ruin’d choirs, where late the sweet birds sang.
    In me thou seest the twilight of such day
    As after sunset fadeth in the west,
    Which by and by black night doth take away,
    Death’s second self, that seals up all in rest.
    In me thou see’st the glowing of such fire
    That on the ashes of his youth doth lie,
    As the death-bed whereon it must expire
    Consumed with that which it was nourish’d by.
    This thou perceivest, which makes thy love more strong,
    To love that well which thou must leave ere long.”

    Now, make haste! Go make some delicious hot cocoa and sit by a cracklin’ fire.

    Tiger Lil

    • Ahh, Tiger Lil, you never cease to amaze, entertain and enlighten me! And I will agree that you Canadians must be a tough bunch to weather such weather! Of course, in the summer we Missourians “tough it out” through 90+ temperatures and humidity (oh my, the humidity!), so I guess we all have certain weather patterns we have learned to adapt to and accept.

      It’s funny–I just used the Lewis Carroll quote the other day on a photography post. I was not familiar with the Flaubert quote, so thank you for sharing–and it’s hard to top my boy Willie!

      Enjoy the rest of your winter!

      • liliofthefield27 says:

        Mutual Admiration Society…and you amaze, entertain and enlighten me and many others.

        Oh, trust me, we suffer through high humidity up here, too, albeit our summers are short.

        I forgot to compliment you on your stunning photos…the little droplet one is sublime. Your photos could easily be plopped into the pages of National Geographic.

        Imagine being on a date with Willie and the conversation with him over candles and wine? LOL!

      • Thank you so much, Tiger Lil. My dream dinner party guests: Shakespeare, Emerson, Thoreau, Poe, Steinbeck, Rumi, Gibran and Conroy. In a group such as that, I wonder who would dominate the conversation, who would stomp out in anger, who would nod off in the corner? 😉

  7. bronxboy55 says:

    Come on — how do you get those amazing bird pictures? In fact, all of your photographs are stunning. I’d like a lesson or two, one of these late summer days. Meanwhile, after weeks of almost constant snow, we’ve been getting rain. The trees seem confused.

    • Thank you, Charles! Those bird pictures were shot using a zoom lens with my camera mounted on a tripod and–believe it or not–while aiming through the glass of my kitchen door (because it was MUCH too cold to go outside). And for every picture you see, there are usually 40-50 more pictures that were rejected. I hope the rain has been a welcome change. Our temperatures have been on a roller coaster this week, but at least we’ve been dry, and if the 30 mph wind gusts would die down, the weather would actually be (almost) pleasant.

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