Lucy Jensen
Lucy Jensen

About this time of year — February blending into March — I can get really sick and tired of winter. Folks back home might have a chortle at that; because, yeah, I know, we don’t really have “winter” per se in our neck of the woods by way of snow, ice, sleet, freezing rain, black ice. Not that kind of winter, and I’m grateful for that, but this year it has just been leaning heavily against me, lumbering its big wet, muddy self on my back like a weight I cannot shift.

When you live on a ranch, the mud is considerable, and I don’t say that lightly. I know we need and want the water in our rivers and reservoirs, but day after day can wear on a person. The dogs tread in muddy paws every second of every day, the horse is filthy and caked in the stuff, the lane to the stable is near impassable with gloopy brown stuff and standing pools of water. My rubber boots are nearly worn out from all the wear. We’ve had plenty this year and last. I’m not really complaining, but enough already!

There was a day of the yellow stuff this past week. Never mind the temp started at about 40 in the morning and accelerated quickly up to 75 by mid-afternoon, I sat for a few minutes in my own head, face to the sun, imbibing the vitamin D deliciousness and feeling calmer and saner all of a sudden with every sun ray that soaked in.

As humans, we need the sun, we really do. I always feel as if northern Europeans are gloomier in general and less sunny in disposition. Well of course they are — they don’t get enough sun. In contrast, the southern Europeans are more gregarious, happier, sunnier, I guess. You might say the same thing for parts of the West Coast to East Coast in this country, but that’s a whole other ball of wax. I’m a bit of a sun worshipper, always have been. I picked the state for my homestead carefully, let me tell you.

I recall my mother bemoaning the arrival of winter, the shorter days, longer nights and gloomier outlooks, when the clocks would change in England. Now there was a sun bird, if there ever was one! She craved the sun like a drug she had to have. If she was traveling to Cali and the weather was less-than, she felt personally insulted, as if she had traveled all the way here and this is what she gets.

I can still sharply recall her singing in the kitchen of our London house the winter hymn (poem by Christina Rossetti), “In the bleak midwinter, frosty wind made moan. Earth stood hard as iron, water like a stone. Snow had fallen, snow on snow, snow on snow on snow ….” She would have all the lights on in the house as soon as the light began to fade, and the heat firmly turned up. And that is how I see winter too, snow or not. You just have to get through it, best you can. A necessary evil. Turn on all the lights in the house.

This past weekend they told us the Sierra could expect 12 feet of snow, and that certainly is snow on snow on snow, good grief. I don’t even like a spatter of snow in my world, that’s how “unsnowly” I am. Roads were closed, trucks were stuck, ski resorts shut — tremendously not fun and very dangerous to try and maneuver your way around; but oh, the watershed. We must be filling things up beautifully again this year and I need to hold onto that very positive feature of this long, long winter.

Here we are, already in March, the daffodils are up, things are blooming, the hills are green — that very lush and near lurid green that the Cali hills can get when they are super-saturated. And then the wildflowers will arrive — and we adore them! Blankets of yellows, oranges, purples — quickly becoming tourist attractions in our neighborhoods. So many wonderful things to cheer about after the winter water is nigh and we can go about our days with less mud, mess, grizzle, wet.

Oh, and don’t even get me started on the transitionary cold you can get when winter is turning to spring, and the afternoon temp is twice the morning one. That’s when my body will firmly say “I DON’T THINK SO” and start to misbehave like a complete wimp. Sniffles, coughs, cold, body aches. “I DON’T HAVE TIME FOR THIS!” I respond to it in no uncertain terms, as I find myself putting on layer after layer, including a woolly hat and thick socks and climbing into bed in the afternoon for a long, congested sleep.

I feel about as insulted as mother did with her no sun in Cali reaction when a cold creeps into my system and stops me performing. “In the bleak midwinter, softly I may moan,” I sing-song to no one in particular, annihilating the lyrics to the poem, as I make myself a hot toddy and climb under the covers yet again.

“Winter has her own beauty!” someone shouted out to the world recently. No, not really, in my world. She is an important pathway to spring and summer; she gives us water that we need to survive and thrive, and she replenishes supply so demand can continue and then we are glad when she stops. “85% of capacity, 90% of capacity!” They are talking about our lakes to the South. These are all good heralds and I’m so glad that is where we are again this year. Marvelous news.

Now I’m over it. I want to be dry and warm and sunny again, basking in my own world of long days and short nights in that lovely warm yellow stuff I’ve missed so much this year.

“Alexa, what is the weather forecast today?” I boom, just in case she is hard of hearing. “Good morning, Lucy.” (Always so polite.) “The weather today is going to be cloudy with a chance of ….”

“No, no, no, Alexa! Wrong answer!” I respond sharply. “I’m sorry,” she says, “I don’t understand that.” Yeah, me neither. This lil sun worshipper is tired of the “cloudy with a chance of.” It’s time for warmth and sun and blue skies in this beautiful State we call home. And now the clocks are going forward and our days will be longer, so maybe here’s our chance! I’m so very glad about that.

The bleak midwinter will soon be a memory. By about October, we will be looking forward to welcoming her back. And isn’t it always this way?

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Soledad columnist Lucy Jensen may be reached at [email protected].


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