I feel like I’ve been sucker punched by Mother Nature. When fall hits us in Minnesota, it hits us hard. One minute it’s boiling out and I’m marveling at how much my kids stink when they come home from school – sweaty and sticky, the smell of playground, jostling, new friends, and a wee bit of stress clinging to their warm heads. Without the benefit of the pool to wash them off and with the shame of a teacher to smell them, I force them to bathe every night. Sorry, you stink I answer flatly to the groans and eye rolling. They do. Stink.

But seemingly overnight the weather turns, and this week in particular, with the cold driving rain, our noses are rubbed in the mess of Autumn. Get ye inside, Mother Nature seems to hiss as the rain drops pelt my kitchen windows, And like it

But I don’t like it. I’m feeling bereft. Unmoored. Discombobulated. I haven’t made peace with the darkness, for one thing. As the daylight retreats earlier and earlier every night, I cower in my kitchen. The drives and drop-offs, the errands, the stuff of life that now need to happen after dark take on a heaviness, a sense of sacrifice. The hour belies the black curtains outside my windows which make me want nothing more than to curl up under a blanket. I glance at the clock, time for bed on the tip of my tongue and wilt: What? It’s only 7:20? 

And soon the cold will come to stay and every move out the back door will require armor, literally and figuratively. Winter is a battle. You suit up and you suit up your underlings with layers of protection against the cruel air. You hunch your shoulders, put your head down, squint, grimace, let out a war cry and run into the danger. Every time. Every time you open the door. It’s exhausting.

And then when you come back in, it’s a whole other kind of carnage: Boots, mittens, hats and coats left for dead all over the mud room floor – a winter massacre in the mud and melting snow. Once I found a pair of snowpants standing straight up, they were so caked in mud. Did I mention we have white tile floors in the mud room? I cannot even begin to understand what kind of a person would install something so monstrously and offensively impractical. Idiots. 

Believe it or not, I actually like many things about winter in Minnesota. As someone who has a near Pavlovian reaction to the sun that makes me race outside and stay there for as long as possible, it’s nice to take a break, to have an excuse to hole up, to feel no guilt for the hours spent indoors. I like fires. I like cooking hot things in big pots. I like living in a city where people refuse to surrender and find joy in every season. I like tiny dancing. Wait, I LOVE tiny dancing. I like scarves. I like tea. I like books. I like boots.

I like winter. In its own time. I’m feeling rushed. Pushed. Bullied. I’m not ready to let go of the ease and the sun, the warmth and the long lazy days, the relative lack of responsibilities and places to be. But what I want doesn’t matter. I need to make peace with the paradox of a busier calendar when we’re supposed to be hibernating, of having to move quicker when I want to slow down.

What I want doesn’t matter. I know what I need to do. I need to get some thick winter blood and some balls. Maybe a cute pair of boots. Winter’s coming. And I best be ready.

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