From My WindowIssue Date: December 28, 2016
Welcome to January
By Jane Thibodeau Martin
I don't "do" New Year's Eve " I'm a morning person, and nothing going on at midnight interests me other than getting a good night's sleep. But I do welcome January " the start of a new year; a fresh slate for our life story.
None of us can be sure today what 2017 will bring to us; but January always feels like a time to slow down, take a deep breath and regroup a little after the holidays. Up north, many wise animals do likewise, with January being a time of hibernation. It's a time to recuperate and gather strength for spring, and survive whatever may come our way, good or bad, in the coming year.
This "slow down" feeling was especially pronounced during my Wisconsin winters. The repetitive chores of summer, like mowing and gardening; halt. A glance at the garden or farm field reveals a brown, resting patch of soil or an immaculate blanket of white. There is no preparation for, or cleanup after, camping or trips to the shack. We tend to travel less, in deference to the road conditions. We have to be flexible and yield our plans to Mother Nature; if a blizzard is pending, unnecessary trips are deferred and we settle in to wait it out. In truth, we are usually not disappointed to be bunkered down awaiting the storm. I used to confirm a prediction of bad weather by looking at my bird feeders. If the aerial show at the feeder resembles a tiny O'Hare airport, believe the weatherman. I trust the bird's natural instincts, honed in the fire of evolution and survival of the fittest.
All the frenetic holiday parties and preparations are over; decorations are packed away and the household returns to normal. We go back to healthier eating, and none too soon " the sight of one more cookie or piece of candy would actually be most unwelcome. New Year's resolutions have something to do with this; but our bodies also have a natural rebellion to the overload of sugar and fat, and we start to crave our normal diet. Very few of us would live on dips and cookies all year round " there is nothing wrong with the over-indulgence of celebrations, but if we listen to our bodies they tell us when "enough is enough." In January, we get that message.
A trip around the local lake or to the nearest woodlands reveals dozens of unplowed driveways and chains across unpaved access roads " the "Up North" cabins and cottages are all asleep for the winter. The resorts and corner taverns, hot spots from Memorial Day through deer hunting; are mostly quiet, with only a few local vehicles and snowmobiles in the parking lots.
The time at home is spent watching TV, debating the football playoff picture, playing cards, and cooking plain, hearty dinners " chili; hot dishes; homemade soups. During this "downtime," plans are made for vacations or the next year's garden. The darkness descends in mid-afternoon; and it's time to retreat to the couch with a fleece blanket and a cup of tea. Looking out the window, it is hard to fathom how the animals active all winter eke out a living in the grey and barren woods. Or, even more perplexing, how the original Americans, the indigenous Indian tribes, survived in the same harsh conditions the deer, turkeys and coyotes are struggling with.
Happy New Year to all of you. I wish you health, love, and peace. There is nothing more valuable in the world.
You can reach me for commentary, alternative viewpoints or ideas at this e-mail address: Janiethibmartin@gmail.com.
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