The New Home Economics

In the bleak midwinter

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In the bleak mid-winter
Frosty wind made moan,
Earth stood hard as iron,
Water like a stone;
Snow had fallen, snow on snow,
Snow on snow,
In the bleak mid-winter
Long ago

It’s a Christmas carol, but I find this song more fitting for right now. This winter has seemed closer to normal in terms of temperature (-14 degrees F in Minneapolis this morning), but we are sorely lacking in snow cover. Hopefully March will bring us closer to normal moisture levels.

Some garden bloggers post about how much they enjoy the break. What I’ve come to realize is that I need physical activity—the more difficult, the better—to truly feel happy and sleep well. Three seasons out of the year, that’s no problem. In the winter, however; not enough exercise… not enough light… and insomnia starts to become my reality.

I have rediscovered how much I love running, though, and it’s helped. I’ve been running home from work at least once per week. It’s a nice 4.5 miles through south Minneapolis and saves me a $2.50 bus fare (I’ve been wimping out on the winter bike commuting this year). There was a time in my life when I would go to the gym and work out; that time has mostly passed. With my schedule, it’s easier to exercise if I can also accomplish another task at the same time, e.g. commuting.

Lake Harriet Kite Festival 2013

A kite festival on a frozen lake in the middle of January: totally normal for Minnesota.

Our lives are changing rapidly right now. Of course, they’ve been changing rapidly since the kids were born, but it feels different now. I used to look forward to each new step. “Soon we won’t need to buy diapers anymore!” Now, I want everything to slow down. My Kindergarteners have been reading to me every night for the past couple weeks. I want to cherish this moment, and maybe that’s the gift of winter: I have time to do so.

We also made good on a plan we committed to a couple years ago: we finally got rid of our television completely during our Christmas break. We’re not screenless, though. I bought a new Mac last fall, which will finally enable me to occasionally work from home and start freelancing again. So the Mac is doing double duty as work and entertainment, and I don’t miss the television one bit. I don’t want to make a blanket judgment on TV watching—I do it, too (currently working our way through season 4 of Battlestar Galactica on DVD). But quantity matters—a lot. The average American is now watching 34 hours per week of TV. No wonder we collectively have no time for cooking or gardening!

Honestly, for me, TV cannot compare to the excitement of gardening, fermenting, reading, running, cooking, or baking, anyway. The movie is NEVER as good as the book, right? So, I’ll get off that soapbox.

seed inventory

Seed inventory time. I don’t have to buy very much seed this year. Apparently I went completely crazy with seed buying last year; I don’t even remember using some of these!

It doesn’t feel like it outside, but spring is ramping up. I’m adding master gardener volunteer activities to my calendar already, and plan to start my first seeds of the season in two or three weeks. I’m also excited and anxious to see what happens to the hundred or so new perennials I added last summer. My back yard will hopefully look very different this spring. I’m also starting to outline my 2013 garden calendar.

I’m not really sure what the point is, of this post, but I guess: I’m here, we’re getting through the winter, staying mostly healthy, and this too shall pass. Without winter, how can one truly appreciate spring? What are you most looking forward to?

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One thought on “In the bleak midwinter

  1. Winter! ;). It’s the end of summer here in Tasmania and we have had a particularly dry and hot one this year…I am looking forward to rain, to the cool weather and to being able to light my wood stove and heat our water for free and cooking marathons over our wood burning stove and the peace and solitude that winter brings. Admittedly we don’t get snow here (only on the mountains) but it does get pretty cold. I guess it is always a matter of the grass being green on the other side of the fence 😉

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