Yvonne Holt: Many of winter’s firsts come in November

11/28/2013 8:40 PM

11/29/2013 8:58 PM

November is a time of winter “firsts.”

It’s funny how we became tired of the summer heat we so desperately craved. Now we crave the cold. We wish longingly for that first winter cold snap, when the temperatures finally drop and we put our socks and sweatpants on again. There’s anticipation of the first big rainstorm, when the air is finally cleansed of smog and dust, and the layers of dust are rinsed off the leaves of the trees and the roads.

Along with the first big rainstorm often comes the first big electrical blackout.

It’s interesting how charming daily tasks become when the power goes out. A child now wants to light all the candles in the house and light the oil storm lamps, though daylight is glowing through the windows.

We must light the first fire of the season in the wood stove and cook our soup over its heat. Canned clam chowder cooked in the microwave has nowhere near the same flavor as chowder cooked in a little pan over a wood stove. We pretend it is “the olden days,” snuggling under blankets and finding books to read. The child wonders what to do with the power being out, as if she does not have pencils and paper with which to draw, or a bedroom to tidy, or books on bookshelves to read, or a hundred toys to play with.

It is also funny how we do things without really thinking about them, until the power goes out. It was without a second thought that I reached to set the timer on the microwave so I could time my workout on the stationary bicycle. But microwave timers require electricity.

I did yoga stretches instead. I can’t work on sewing those quilt blocks together – my day is thrown off. Silly me – who has boxes of fabric to sort and another project to begin organizing and cutting – none of those projects require electricity. My water supply is gravity-fed from a water tank, so why am I suddenly loath to wash my dishes by hand when the power is out, when I have no trouble washing the dishes by hand when the power is on?

The first rainstorm, the first cool weather, the first fire in the wood stove, and the first weather delay for school, all of these firsts will become old news by January. We will be tired of the daily cold in March and yearn for any sign of warmth from spring weather. But for now, we embrace the first signs of winter and air out our down jackets and dust off the boots in anticipation of snow. Plans are to be made of visiting the snow play area and checking the cupboards for our supply of hot chocolate packets. Winter comes again.

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