It’s Winter Break at the Urban Homestead. For about two weeks, everything comes to a halt. The time is somewhat framed by the Christmas Tree and by Yuletide, but not completely. It’s more a state of mind—or, more precisely, lack of mind.
Winter Break means sleeping until you want to wake up, until the light filters into the room, dim from cloud cover. It means thinking about Soft Clothes right after dinner, if you want. It is staring at the juncos at the feeder with the cat by your side. Perhaps rereading a children’s novel—Paddington the Bear or Go to the Room of the Eyes, while considering the weather. Could it get any nastier? Why yes, it could. It just went from dank heavy fog to freezing rain. But, that’s okay. You weren’t going anywhere anyways. Maybe it’s time to start the soup for supper.
Winter Break isn’t all about sluggishness, although there has to be a few days of sluggy-ness during the break. It is also about long walks around town and visiting all of the local woods hikes—Bald Hill, Finley Wildlife Refuge, the Arboretum—to check out the mosses and lichens on the trees. It is about being outside every day, Embracing The Day, for at least an hour, usually more, before heading back home for tea or hot cocoa. There is not much light in the Northwest in the winter, so you have to catch it when you can. Working from dawn to sunset, literally, is depressing. Winter Break helps us over the hump of darkness. Embrace the Day!
Winter Break is, finally, about friendship. During the two weeks or so of Break, you see everyone you know and love, formally or informally. You spend hours talking with friends at Sunnyside or at home, travel to Eugene and Portland—eating good food and visiting. You also bump into local friends everywhere—the library, the sidewalk, at the movies or a concert. So many people leave town over Break that the rest of us rattle around a little bit and knock into each other more easily. A quick trip downtown can lead to four or five conversations along the way.
I love Winter Break, the shift in routine, the chance to sleep and stare out the window, the long hours in the pale winter light. It’s a gift that comes every year, just when we need it the most. And, when it is over, I’m almost ready to go back to work…but I am not above praying for freezing rain on Sunday afternoon—just enough, perhaps, for a two hour delay announced the night before?