December 13, 2010

A Teaspoon of Honey

Posted in Weather tagged , , , , , , , , at 8:13 am by Liliana

“Sweeten this harsh life!”

“Sweeten this harsh life!”

All last week we had drab, gray, overcast, leaden, cold, windy weather here in Michigan.

A coworker stopped me in our lunchroom at RepairClinic and told me that he was feeling lethargic and blue.

I got together with my book club friends one evening and people complained how depressed they felt. Cathy commented that the entire world seemed sprinkled with cement ashes.

I feel it, too.

My optimistic nature is being eclipsed by the oppressive dullness and lack of sunlight. Coldness and darkness seem to be seeping into my bones.

It takes all my will power to jump out of bed when the alarm goes off in the mornings. My bed is a warm, snug nest and all I want to do is burrow under my soft comforter and hibernate until the season changes.

But I make myself get up. I face the day.

And this is the time when those lessons absorbed long ago from my parents, grandparents and culture, help to get me through the day.

How many times have I heard it – life is unsparing and there is no way to escape its harshness. Objecting and lamenting does not make things better.

When I was a little girl, my father would offer me a teaspoon of honey with my tea. “Have a bit of honey to sweeten this harsh life,” he liked to say.

So, yesterday afternoon, when I was having my cup of tea, I added a teaspoon of honey. It helped bring a bit of sunlight into my day. It really did.

December 6, 2010

Change of Season

Posted in Home, Weather tagged , , , , , at 7:52 am by Liliana

First Snowflakes

First Snowflakes

This has been an unsettlingly mild autumn for our part of the country.

There were days of incessant rain and overcast skies, but also mild temperatures and an abundance of sunny, golden afternoons.

The leaves change color to deep yellows and burgundies and fall to the ground. Sometimes while taking Kaya on a walk, I squint my eyes, and my street shimmers like an impressionist painting.

Early in November, I bring in my potted plants and find them comfortable winter residence on window sills and shelves in various parts of the house. But, it isn’t until the middle of the month that we have our first night frost.

Then on December first, winter comes. Overnight. One day it is fall, the next day we all know that the seasons have changed.

As I walk out of the house, sporadic snowflakes fall out of the dark gray early morning sky. The air feels rarefied, jagged and sparkling. I take a deep breath and exhale. Steam comes out of my mouth. Just for fun, I huff again.

Now, when I return home on a cold winter afternoon, I feel my house embracing me in its comforting, protective fold.

Meteorologists predict a very cold, snowy winter this year in Michigan.

September 8, 2010

Extreme Weather

Posted in Holidays, Weather tagged , , , , , , , , , at 7:17 pm by Liliana

Extreme Weather

Extreme Weather

My family and I spent last week at our cottage near Lake Michigan. It was a relaxing, quiet week.

The first few days were hot and humid. The lake water was warm and I spent hours swimming or walking on the beach.  I tried reading but the heat was oppressive and all I wanted to do was nap. I sat or lay in the sun and went in and out of sleep. It was hard to imagine that any other kind of weather had ever enveloped this lake. Summer heat was the only reality we knew.

On Thursday evening there was a large and violent storm. The rain poured out of water-logged skies. Thunder shook our cottage and lightening illuminated the windows. Curtains manically danced in the wind as did papers, books and anything caught in the breeze.

I am not afraid of storms, in fact I love them. But this storm was so powerful and out of control, it made me uneasy. I stayed awake for a long time, keeping vigil over my family.

As we slowly started moving around the cottage the following morning, we seemed to have entered an entirely new season. The house was cold. Not a little cold, not just a bit chilly, but brisk in a way we have not had a chance to get accustomed to. I pulled on a pair of pants, a sweatshirt and a sweater. Nena put on a pair of her softest, warmest socks.

Sam suggested that we turn on the heat. It seemed to me a preposterous idea to turn the heat on when only the day before we were bemoaning the fact that our cottage had no air-conditioning. But finally, I relented. We turned the thermostat to sixty eight and right away, we all felt more comfortable. We spent the day inside, on couches, under blankets, reading and watching movies.

I cannot remember that I have ever witnessed such a sudden transition of extremes. It’s hard to know how to interpret all these changes.

March 16, 2010

Rainy Weekend

Posted in Health, Weather, Women, Work tagged , , at 7:17 am by Liliana

Raindrops

Rainy weekend

I spent most of the weekend lying on the couch in my living room. My throat sore, sinuses congested, eyes watery and nose running, my head feeling as hollow as a pumpkin; had I not been so miserable, I would have laughed at how terrible the common cold can make us feel.

The weather outside perfectly mirrored my inner state – incessant, drizzly spring rain, blustery winds, metallic sky – perfect weather to curl up with a light novel and a cup of tea. That is what I did, and I felt very smug about it. When Nena called, I bragged about being good to myself, listening to my body and allowing myself time to heal.

By Sunday afternoon, I was expecting, no, I was demanding, to feel better. Hadn’t I given myself the entire weekend to recuperate? Well, my body apparently cared nothing about the fact that Mondays are busy days. I had meetings to go to, projects to finish. People were counting on me. I had no more time to give to myself.

I started feeling impatient and cross – with myself and those around me. Jeff and Sam could do nothing right. My sister called to see how I was feeling and whether I would go to work on Monday. Of course, I snapped, I am feeling better. Nena called and I told her the same story. After dinner I took a hot bath and went to read in bed. I was still hopeful.

Jeff has seen me push myself many times before, until I had nothing left to give. He has seen me get walking pneumonia because I refused to stop and heal before I got worse. Walking into our bedroom he asked how I felt. I am better, I tried to pretend. So he reminded me about the two weeks spent in bed last winter, two different orders of antibiotics and numerous doctor visits. He was right. I didn’t want that to happen again.

I emailed my boss and told him that I was still sick. He sent me a nice ‘get better’ message. He was probably relieved that I wasn’t there to infect anyone else. I will try to learn from this experiencing. But, knowing me, I will probably need reminders. Again and again.

February 27, 2010

Lake Michigan in Winter

Posted in Weather tagged , , , , at 8:10 am by Liliana

Lake Michigan in winter

Lake Michigan in winter

Dead of winter in Michigan – lots of snow, gusty winds, metallic sky, temperature in mid teens. It’s cold, the roads are treacherous, not pleasant to walk outside.

Still, I love to walk, especially along Lake Michigan. I find the lake beautiful at any time of year but in wintertime the character of the water becomes vastly different from what it is in more temperate seasons. It becomes transformed and magical, like something out of a fairy tale.

The sand and the snow embrace in tall drifts blown by fierce and unyielding wind. The tenacious wild lake grasses are holding on for dear life, and the sea gulls and sand pipers are nowhere to be seen. The water is frozen into silent, white ice sculptures for miles along the beach, but the sound of cold, angry waves beyond still make their presence preeminent.

I am wearing a sweater, a fleece jacket and a heavy winter coat. I have a woolen scarf wrapped around my neck and a warm hat on my head. My hands are hiding in heavy mittens. Still, the wind gets through all those layers and I feel it’s freezing breath on my skin. I am cold, but also energized and happy. To share this moment with the lake, the wind, the wide blue sky is a privilege and a gift.