Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Too much winter already December 2, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 11:48 AM
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Now, would you call this recently-photographed scene a winter or fall landscape?

I HATE TO ADMIT THIS already, especially since the calendar just flipped to December. But I am tired of winter.

Technically, though, I should state that I am tired of fall given winter does not officially begin until December 21. Really? Looking outside my office window, I see snow and bare trees, pretty much a winter landscape if you ask me.

A frosty view of the winter sunrise through my home office window. We're getting five new windows soon, which should make the house a bit more cozy.

The calendar says otherwise.

For me, though, winter arrives when I find myself snuggling under a warm lap throw while sitting at my computer, watching TV, reading a book and, yes, even while eating dinner or supper. (Note that I did not say “lunch or dinner” per deference to my rural roots.)

I wrongly assumed that installation of a new furnace last year would banish cold air from our house and allow me to permanently stash the pile of wool and fleece throws in the back corner of the closet. Uh, uh.

If I notched the thermostat beyond 67 degrees, I suppose I would feel warmer. But I am stubborn and frugal and I have a strong history of fending off the cold via methods other than cranking up the heat.

I grew up in a drafty old farmhouse where, every winter, the foundation was first wrapped in brown paper and then snuggled with straw bales. The house was heated by an oil-burning stove in the living room. That stove didn’t exactly provide much warmth for “the girls'” upstairs, west-facing bedroom, which endured the brunt of the unrelenting prairie winds.

My sister burned her behind on that stove once when she got a little too close while warming up after her weekly Saturday night bath. (She didn’t tell anyone until the burn festered.) Yes, we took baths only once a week, in a tin tub hauled into the kitchen. In the winter Mom turned on the oven and opened the door, either to keep us warm or to keep the bathwater from freezing, I’m not sure.

After pondering those childhood days, I have to wonder now why I’m complaining about winter. Really, I don’t have it so bad—no tin tub, no oil-burning stove to light with a farmer match, no bales stacked around the house, no plastic covering storm windows…

If I really, really want to, I can bump the thermostat up a few degrees.

© Copyright 2010 Audrey Kletscher Helbling