Sliding down our backyard hill was ‘cool’ for my sister, brother and I, as was skating on Beebe Lake, property of Cornell University, the latter no longer allowed.
Again, fun was to be had with my two daughters when Cayuga Lake would freeze at its shallow end. I even enjoyed running a 5K with my then husband one new years eve as snowflakes latched onto my eyelashes.
Still, as an adult, I complained for some years about the barrenness of trees without leaves. After a few years of grieving (my fourth marriage and my mother not loving me), I learned to admire and yes love the symmetries (trees) shaped by bare branches, as I gradually accepted my tears without shame. To flow like the rain.
After owning two homes, I chose to rent a renovated chicken coop, next to the farmhouse where the landlord lived. I loved opening my eyes each morning to an expansive valley view, without having to lift my head from my pillow. I lived across the road from Robert Treman State Park, where I ran past many waterfalls either frozen or flowing past spring Trillium. I cross-country skied up and down the farm fields, sometimes wondering if my water pipes would ever stop freezing. My bane of winter.
Over the fourteen years I lived on Gray Road; (how apropos) I badgered my usually helpful landlord, to insulate, even calling for a free energy audit provided by the local utility company.
By year twelve, he had insulated a bit – yet, in year thirteen, I was up until 4am trying to unfreeze pipes with a friend’s hair dryer, while my landlord vacationed in Florida.
When the rent was raised again in 2014, I rebelled. I would not pay more when the water froze once again. When an eviction notice was handed to me, I was surprised and resisted at first. Within 24 hours I’d realized it was time to leave. March first, amidst snowflakes, my family helped me move my “lightened” load.
After two more apartment moves within the next two years, I am now living in my dreamed-of-apartment, situated in an 1840’s built home, where I view a pond within an expansive valley, wide open to my love of light and the four seasons. No curtains over my large windows. It wasn’t until I moved in, that one day I asked myself why I had always wished for a pond on my property…I remembered where I played as a child in the back fields of our childhood home: the pond where I gathered tadpoles and thumb-sized blackcaps for pies my mother would make- my favorite! Peaceful Park, my sister and I named it: where daddy crafted a waterwheel spun by the pond’s stream. Where I felt freest to be me.
Throughout the four seasons.
Even now being in the winter years of my life, I can not imagine being a snowbird.*
give me one more year
of winter’s quiet embrace
summer’s smiling face
spring’s generous lace
fall’s colorful grace…………………………………………………….poem by Gayle Gray and me
*Snowbird: Live up north in the spring and summer, live in the south in fall and winter.