Winter, everywhere, can be hard.
One of the things I loved about Cleveland was the way that I never remembered seasons when they came back around. Spring would pop up through the brown, dark earth, and I’d exult in the new colors; I’d have forgotten what flowers, and broad leaves, and baby birds looked like. Summer would come and I’d have garden parties, barbecues, croquet; I’d feel as if such splendour had never existed before, and I would have forgotten to buy bug spray, and how suddenly summer storms could pelt down raindrops so big that they’d obscure the view of the road. The leaves would turn orange, yellow and red, and I’d have piles of them to rake up; the glories of hot apple cider would come back to me, and hot chocolate, and hot tea cups steaming on the porch, and pounding thunder, and I’d feel lucky to have a roof over my head and windows to close when the cold crept up to my house. Then the first snow would fall, and in that first snow every sound would be muffled by the fat, fluffy flakes, and cars would drive more slowly, and red cheeked faces would appear at windows and everyone would be driven indoors again, filling bars and concert halls and museums, parents thankful to get out of their old, drafty houses and see other adults. Then Spring would pop up through the brown, dark earth.
At the end of every season, I would take time – maybe a few minutes, maybe a few days – to think back on the previous few months. When Spring finished blooming, it was like the end of adolescence, and the beginning of a young maturity, with everything to look forward to. When Summer surrendered, it was time to be thankful for the times we’d had together and to look forward to a quieter, less riotous time. When Autumn was done, the harvest was maple leaves, and Jerusalem artichokes, onions, potatoes, and apples; it was time to look forward to a restful winter indoors. I always got the sense that people felt obligated to express resentment toward the cold, but I suspected most of them were happy for the enforced rest.
But Winter was also hard. This one was particularly difficult for me – picking up stakes, selling my beloved house, and moving to a new country. I’ve been getting used to a new language, this English English, and new money, and new ways of life, and a new culture. I’ve been working through the work system, and applications, and a social life that is distinctly English and distinctly Big City. And I’ve been getting used to living with a woman who became my wife on our third date – who is beautiful and wonderful and yet, in many ways, is utterly mysterious to me, which I suppose is always, and has always been, the way with men and women.
But today, aphids are attacking the rose blossoms outside of our living room window, which is a reminder that even after a winter that saw rain, snow, hail, and bitter cold, that Spring can still pop up through the dark, brown earth, and even if there are aphids, there are also roses there to feed them.