Now with autumn really here, I’m starting to realize that this winter will be so different from any other one that I have ever known. I’ve lived in the city all of my life, and in winter, the most frustration would be frozen windshields and cars that wouldn’t start, but always knowing that a friendly boost from neighbors or the emergency road service was always close by.
We would endure slippery sidewalks and roads that would take a day or two to clear. Of course, now with cut backs, most snow removal starts with bus routes and main thoroughfares. Probably the worst annoyance for me would be getting into a cold car and waiting for it to warm up. But as a newcomer to this Mountain Valley environment, I’m learning from smiling locals who give me a wink and tell me with a chuckle, that I should be ready to bundle up and enjoy. So I’m listening to them with anticipation as I gain new outdoor experiences, but at the same time I’m learning that power outages may happen more than we like, and road closures are common due to treacherous driving conditions, so our well laid plans may very well have to change.
For me it’s also a different way of taking stock of what’s needed to carry you through the winter. I’m used to 24/7 shopping for almost anything I need. Even at Christmas time, the local Walmart was open 24 hours for all of the ‘last minute’ shoppers to do all of their final Christmas shopping. I have to admit there is one tradition I will not miss at all, and that is the Boxing Day shopping madness. I’ve always wondered why the holiday season is spent with only one legal day off especially for retail staff. They have families too. We get so excited to have Christmas celebrations with family and friends but can’t wait to race out early Boxing Day morning, just to wait in line again, to buy more ‘stuff.’
I believe I will really enjoy the upcoming winter season, but in a different way that I have ever experienced. With the new snow on the mountains, the much cooler nights and the visible change in the weather I’m excited to find out what the next few months will be like. It’s awesome each day to see more snow on the mountains and how spectacular they look, but I’m also getting wise to the fact, that planning and being prepared is a priority or I might be begging favors from friends and neighbors.
Now the question as I think about my ‘preparedness’ is, what’s most important? I know it’s going to be good to have a well-stocked pantry and freezer, along with other essentials like toiletries and extra warm socks and clothing. And for those who heat with wood, having a much-needed pile stocked and ready is critical. Having frozen berries from the abundant summer yields will be wonderful to have on top of a steaming bowl of oatmeal on a cold winter morning. Having enough books, hobbies and activities to keep busy during the dark hours will be important too. All are important needs, but now as I’m reflecting on the winter ahead, there’s a good lesson here for me. Besides the essentials and having my basic needs meet, what do I really need? Is it a ‘need’ or is it more of a ‘want’?
Taking stock has helped me to realize that what’s most important for me is having my family, my friends and the knowing that I belong. It’s also participating, being involved and sharing in the many special events and upcoming activities with neighbors and friends. I know that everything will be as it should be, we will survive whatever winter brings, but having the love of family, the comfort of friendship and the warmth of a supportive community is what’s really important to me.