This winter I have a case of the dreaded “winter blues.” I’m pretty sure the unrelenting pain in my spine has a lot to do with it but then again, it probably is more complicated than that. I feel at odds about so many things, like I have one foot in the waters of being an active parent with my time structured by an academic calendar and events and another foot cautiously entering the waters of the life of an empty nester (so why do I bother with looking at the cancellations due to bad weather? Not like I’m driving carpool).
I don’t have a solution for handling this Winter of Discontent. All I’ve figured out, so far, is that it’s probably transient and typical of many others in my demographic. With that, I hope to keep moving forward, trying new things and discarding things weighing me down. I’ve been thinking a lot about where I would like to be in a few years and what makes me happy just as much as I’ve mulled over what makes me feel so out of sorts right now.
The constant in my life is finding solace in nature. It’s not just taking a walk in a garden, although that is definitely a way to lift spirits, it’s bringing nature close to awaken the senses dulled in winter months.
I keep a candle near my bed; Nest’s “Narcissus” – a smell that, for me, is reminiscent of winter holidays with family. My mother always had lovely paper whites blooming in shallow, pebble filled dishes set on the coffee table in the living room over the winter months. In Cleveland, any aroma of the earth, other than snow, was refreshing and welcomed (though my own family doesn’t like the smell). The candle is poured into a beautiful porcelain container etched with narcissus and is as lovely lit as it is unlit.
In addition to the candle, I like coaxing narcissus bulbs but this year I tried doing them individually in hourglass shaped glass containers tied with a gold wire-edged ribbon. They looked festive, I enjoyed watching the roots grow and they quickly popped open to expose the fragrant flower.
But I also had to get a few bunches of paper whites for a vase – for me, they fit with the season, I love their smell and I feel nostalgic for their flower during the winter holidays. I needed more than just a few sparse blooms.
Tulips, my favorite flower, are usually easy to find in any store this time of year and I’ve been fortunate, and grateful, to receive on two occasions beautiful bunches of vibrant, long lasting tulips. They brought color to my room after recuperating from some spinal procedures and definitely brightened my mood. Nature’s beauty, and the generosity and thought of my husband and a close friend, lifted my mood considerably.
Just when I think this area’s gardens are dull, I’m reminded by Elizabeth Lawrence’s “Through the Garden Gate” (edited by Bill Neal) that gardens are always alive and, if you are willing to be a student, full of lessons. The book, a recent gift from my very close, insightful and fellow gardening friend serves as a good reminder and is the perfect addition to my bedside library. The bedside library is simply a stack of books I like to – or need to – grab when I’m in dire need of awakening the senses that are obvious in warm months and more hidden in these cold, winter months.
As is the Stashower Custom, we receive amaryllis bulbs for a holiday gift. The tradition began long ago and like clockwork, a bulb from White Flower Farm arrives in December and for several months, we enjoy watching them grow from bulb to blossom.
Past blogs have talked about the importance of this gift and how grateful I am that my father continues the tradition though it has been a few years since my mother passed away. Her aesthetics, joy in selecting the bulbs and delight in keeping track of their progress is as clear today as it was decades ago when she first started sending the bulbs.
There have been years of spectacular blooms and this year’s choice, Amaryllis Matterhorn, continues the streak. The bulb has two stalks; one has already blossomed and is past its prime, the second stalk is about to bloom.
It’s mid February and I’ve received several notices marking the anniversary of my mother’s passing is only a few weeks away. I know that contributes to the Winter of my Discontent. I miss my mother just as I miss the years when our family gathered in Cleveland. Maybe when I feel like I’m floundering and unsure about things, I should look to the constants in life and hold them close to my heart.
I miss you, mom.