Monday, February 15, 2010

Returning to Winter

Return to normal, whatever that is. Winter. Blue blue skies. Bright sun, getting hotter every day. When the temperature rises above -10C, snow at the south facing back of the house starts to melt. Today there was a steady dripping sound of something leaking from the eaves troughs. That's another story -- we haven't lived in this house through a winter, so now we are discovering some of its winter character traits!

There wasn't a week that went by in Australia where we didn't receive a genuine question about winter -- how cold does it get? How does it feel when it's that cold? How much snow do you have? How much shoveling? Ice? Skating? How do you drive on snow and ice? There was a real interest in the event of winter, which is far from the weather reality of Australia with its tropical north, changeable south and dry interior.

And Manitoba gets a winter that you notice. This season started later than normal -- it was early December before they got some decent snow. There have been a few serious lows, but in general, it's bearable and gorgeous during the day. It's already mid-February, we've had some freezing rain, two reasonable snow storms, and little extreme cold.

I felt very testy about the cold when we got home. It's much much easier to step outdoors when you don't have to put on the extras -- boots, mitts, hat or ear band, scarf, zip up the winter parka or coat, grit your teeth and go. We were immersed in the changeable weather of Melbourne, for sure, but nothing colder than a hard frost and one morning of slushy sleet on the ground for a few hours. I did wear gloves twice, but by the time I'd made it half way up One Tree Hill Road I was warm enough to unzip the fleecy and remove the gloves. I've been trying to change my attitude about the cold, really. Embrace the chill. Enjoy the gorgeous pure blue of the sky and plants that are not green and lush. Life in another format. The sun's heat is already noticeable during the day, so again it will move to a warmer season. It's just more obvious here than it was in the Dandenongs, as we progress through the winter to the return of the northern hemisphere to heat.

There's been a lot to sort out. Returning to work for both Tom and myself. He's back in one small room, versus the big classrooms he used at Beaconhills. Getting used to something that once was completely familiar. I do feel as if I've outgrown some aspects of my working life, but that's something that will be sorted out with time. Feeling our way back into the lives of our friends. Figuring out who we (and they) have become. Everything changes, even though it feels somewhat the same. The winter is the stable factor -- it feels similar, it looks similar. Crusty ruts of snow on the roads. Slipping through a turn. Not stomping on the brakes as you come up to a stop. The kids are sorting out their feelings about being in new schools, once again. They truly found a home at Ferny Creek Primary School, made friends, had life-altering experiences. Now they're slipping around a bit, figuring out where they fit.

I'm asking a few genuine questions of myself -- more than filling a list (the bucket list email was making its round again a few weeks ago), or ticking off items. We were certainly privileged to spend a year in a place that let us explore ourselves, new ways of being, growing up and changing. The questions are real, and I'm looking for responses that are real. Preteen aged kids have different questions than the three who hopped a plane with us in late 2008. Tom's approach to his artistic expression will change now that he has a studio again. I'm growing out of something, as I stated. My intellect needs a different challenge. I'm really trying to figure out what that will be.

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