spencedaniel

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Pajamas Warmed in the Dryer

As this winter continues to break records with historic snow amounts and frigid freezing temperatures and so many days with treacherous travel conditions, I find myself all cozy and nestled on a favorite corner of my living room couch, sifting through pages of jotted notes that I’ve made over the many days and weeks that went from November to December to now January. Considering my quiet absence from blogging, you might be somewhat amazed or even puzzled if you could see all the partially written stories and blog posts that fill several random notebooks and my lap. So I thought before any more dust settles on these scribbled words of mine, I’d share a few meandering thoughts with you about the weather.

Do NOT Touch this Door Knob

Do NOT Touch this Door Knob

Like so much of the United States and the rest of the world, the Midwest has had its share of snow and an unbelievable number of days with bitter temperatures hovering at or well below zero. It has seemed that anytime we’ve had temperatures above zero, it has felt like a gift.

One morning a number of weeks ago, after days of brutal below zero temperatures, I found myself beyond ecstatic to glance at the television weather forecast and see a high of 34 degrees. I failed to stick around long enough for the rest of the assorted details and missed everything the weather had in store for us that day. I was surprised when a lot of the hurried hallway conversations at work were of freezing rain and plans to leave early. Like clockwork, heavy fog settled in early and then rain drops starting hitting the windows late morning. The rain steadily increased in drop size and intensity and became pouring rain by early afternoon. Even without freezing temperatures, rain hitting frozen ground, or any snowy surface is a very bad combination. I ended up leaving work much later than I had planned and found myself slowly maneuvering the slippery salted route to my waiting car in the almost deserted parking lot.

Winter Rain and Frozen Fog

Winter Rain and Frozen Fog

The steady downpour of rain had managed to rinse off all the accumulated road grit and chalky salt residue from my car and when I pulled into my driveway, once again grateful for an attached garage, the rain had turned to sleet. It had snowed a few days earlier, but the temperatures had been so cold, it had prevented me from going outside to shovel. Years of home ownership had taught me that with all the day’s rain and the sleet coming down, the un-shoveled snow would be inches of solid ice in the morning. So I went inside and quickly put on my Ugg boots for safer walking and traction and warmth. I grabbed the smallest of my shovels (I have three) and started clearing the snow… one back-breaking shovel full of heavy water logged snow at a time. The entire time I shoveled, I got pelted with cold icy sleet and soon my coat and scarf and mittens were drenched and would need to be hung up overnight to dry. That was definitely a night when warm pajamas beckoned.

Warming pajamas in the dryer is a winter ritual I started with my daughter more than 20 years ago, and this year it’s become a nightly one. Some nights, almost minutes after I’m home from work, I grab my pajamas and head to the basement laundry room. It only takes a few minutes of dryer time, maybe five at the most, and then I’m pulling out and crawling into blissfully warmed pajamas and once again being reminded of life’s simple and sweet pleasures. If you’ve never tried it, I encourage you to do so. You’ll have to let me know what you think.

This year has even brought new weather definitions I don’t remember ever seeing or hearing before. One such term is called frozen fog.  I laughed when I read the weather forecast on my iPhone, thinking for sure it was a typo. Only on that particular day we ended up getting about 5 inches of frozen fog. I was still chuckling to myself as I started cleaning off my car. Only the joke was on me. This snow was almost like a magician’s illusion since it felt like I was brushing cotton balls of snow off my car. I almost didn’t need my scraper brush. I just leaned in and blew and poof – it blew right off. I am now a huge fan of frozen fog. I just wish frozen fog was the only kind of snow I ever had to shovel or blow. Unfortunately, that is seldom the case. But a girl can dream, can’t she?

Earlier today I braved some unbearable biting wind to shovel and dig out my driveway. When I first ventured outside all bundled in knitted warmth from head to toe, with temperatures hovering at 14 degrees Fahrenheit or -10 Celsius, and seeing the almost blinding sunshine and Tiffany blue skies overhead, my spirits seemed in almost a state of giddiness. I donned my sunglasses and grabbed my shovel and surveyed the job ahead of me: relatively untouched sparkling diamond encrusted snow with only the mailman’s fresh patterned boot prints making a path from the street to my porch. I was seriously marveling at the beauty from my garage perch and feeling relieved that I only had several inches of snow to shovel. My quiet moment of reflection and gratitude was short lived as I heard the unmistakable approaching sound of the snowplow barreling down my street. In a matter of seconds it whizzed past my house and my shoveling chore was lengthened by an additional 30 minutes with nearly a foot of large chunks of ice and layers of dirty snow that buried the end of my driveway.

Although I had heard the wind throughout the night and early morning hours, it still caught me by surprise when I was slapped in the face with its biting force and nastiness this morning. As I wrapped my scarf tighter around my neck, I noticed the dozens of assorted-sized birch sticks and braches that were scattered all over my snow-covered yard and sidewalks and driveway. The sticks almost reminded me of brush strokes and so I went inside to grab my phone so I could capture the moment.

Branch like Brush stroke in snow

Branch like Brush stroke in snow

It seems to me there’s been a lot of wind this winter. I’ve lost track of all the times I’ve driven past Lake Michigan and seen the waves crashing against the rocks and shore – a mighty, yet humbling sight. Many nights I’ve gone to bed listening to the howling wind and then later woke to its fury in the middle of the night. Sometimes in order to fall asleep, I need to burrow under the warmth of my flannel sheets and blankets and then hours and dreams later I wake, sometimes to stillness and quiet, and sometimes to even more wind.

In winter the first thing I do almost every morning is look out my kitchen window to see if there is any new snow to shovel. My gratitude journals have many, many entries that read: NO NEW SNOW TO SHOVEL! As the years pass, I’m becoming less fond of the snow (or maybe just the shoveling) and the cold, but I still count my blessings to live where I do. I love the exhilarating breathtaking views during this wintery season. I love nothing better than to take in a snowfall from the cozy comfort of my home looking out the windows at the flakes and the blowing snow. If you live or have lived in the Midwest, or in a climate that has snow, you well know all the different shapes and sizes and dimensions that snow can take. Snowflakes can be little wisps or hints of snow that almost evaporate minutes after hitting the ground, or crystal-like pellets that actually sting when they hit your face, or huge feathery one of a kind masterpieces that leave you in absolute awe (or they should) as they magically land on windshields or coats or scarves or eyelashes. Some are big fluffy clusters of snowflakes that almost come to earth as miniature snowballs that quickly accumulate into snow banks or wait to be rolled into snowmen.

I truly love how each of the seasons give us new perspective and renewed appreciation and wonders to marvel about and images to savor long after the snow banks have melted or the fragrant lilacs have finished blooming or the leaves have completely fallen to the ground. So wherever you may find yourself on this winter night, I hope you are staying cozy and feeling warm and abundantly blessed. And for me – I am staying cozy and feeling abundantly blessed, only now I have pajamas in need of some dryer time.

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4 comments on “Pajamas Warmed in the Dryer

  1. dianescheurell
    January 25, 2014

    You make me cold just reading your essay. I can’t say that I miss any of it: the cold, the wind and resultant windchill, the snow, ice, sleet, frozen rain, shoveling, slipping, sliding, crunching, boots, mittens, overheated malls. Thank you God for delivering me from all of that. But Sue, I do miss you!
    Much aloha.

    • spencedaniel2012
      January 29, 2014

      Diane, reading your description of our winters made me laugh…and then shutter. Yikes! All I can say is – it does teach us appreciation. I miss you too. Sending you warm greetings from the Frozen Tundra!

  2. Crystal
    February 1, 2014

    Sue-loved the dryer trick. I often love this right before having to go outside. Although I think the next investment for you has to be a snow thrower. Sending warm thoughts to you.

    • spencedaniel2012
      February 2, 2014

      I think you’re right about the snow thrower. Thanks for the warm thoughts, Crystal. I’m sending a bunch your way too.

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