Do you love winter? Hate it? Don’t really care? Winter was never my favorite season, but I didn’t dread it either. I have always loved snow. I love cozy winter evenings.
But I began to dread some things about winter when I started teaching school:
A stuffy classroom filled with mud and boots.
Gray days of indoor recess in limited space.
Trying to figure out if it’s warm enough to play outside at recess.
Too much contained energy when I can’t send everyone outside at break and lunch time.
Days when contained energy in the classroom reaches dangerous levels, and trying to channel all that energy into productive and nonviolent endeavors feels like trying to capture the energy of a volcano to power a home.
Then I moved to the equator and lived in a land of no winter for four years. I didn’t really miss winter, although sometimes I dreamed of snow on those hot, dry January days. I wasn’t sure what it would be like to return to North American winters.
But for the first two years I was back from Kenya I was at Faith Builders, and there I loved winter. Winter meant days of sitting in front of the fireplace to study while watching the snow drift down outside the window. It meant walks in the snowy woods. I could enjoy the beauty of snow without needing to drive in it very much. And I was stunned by winter’s beauty, after being away from it for four years. I remember the first time I saw icicles that year. Icicles?! I had completely forgotten about icicles. And many other little things like that made me feel like a wonder-filled child again in my rediscovery of what I had once known. I wondered vaguely why I had ever disliked winter.
Last year I spent a winter teaching school in Lancaster County again. And I said, “Oh. I remember now,” in a very small voice.
So I have this ongoing love/hate relationship with winter. To offset the negatives, I’ve been thinking of things about winter that I eagerly anticipate, besides the aforementioned no-brainer things like snow and cozy evenings:
1. No more flies! Flies have a way of becoming the bane of your existence when you teach school. They do that dive-bombing thing at your head when you’re right in the midst of making an important point in class. They buzz incessantly as you do lesson plans after school. In the fall they swarm indoors, and I kill them by the dozen. (My expertise with a fly swatter is one of many handy little skills I’ve picked up in the course of my school-teaching career). But I always feel smug when I think of winter’s approach, because I know the flies can’t win. With the unseasonably warm temperatures of this past December, I was still swatting a stray fly or two up until Christmas break. But this week’s frigid temperatures have ensured that no flies remain. Victory!
2. We get our roads back. Sorry, you can’t appreciate this if you don’t live in tourist country. Now, don’t get me wrong; I have nothing against tourists in general. I don’t begrudge sharing our beautiful Lancaster County with visitors, because I would come here to visit too if I lived in the city. But I do hate fighting traffic. “Just driving two-and-a-half miles home from school should not be this stressful,” I kept telling myself this fall as I battled the insane volume of vehicles. Today I drove home without being slowed down at all by traffic. No more of this twenty-miles-an-hour-all-the-way-home stuff.
3. The tour buses diminish in number. This goes with number 2. Many tour buses pause along the road by our school during the fall (like, 5-10 per day sometimes). Again, I don’t blame them. The church across the road is a place of historical and cultural significance. My children playing out in the autumn sunshine paint an idyllic scene. But sometimes the buses are noisy, and the road is not far from my classroom, and my windows are level with the road. With winter’s arrival, I’m so glad to have that source of distraction eliminated from the daily repertoire.
4. I only need to empty the dehumidifier in my classroom once a week or so, instead of every other day. Gotta love basement classrooms.
5. I drive into the sunrise on my way to school and into the sunset on my way home. This is a very happy thing.
What aspects of winter do you look forward to?