Wednesday, March 3, 2010


It's the time of year when I'm tired of everything. Dark winter clothes. Piles of snow. Gray sky. Driving. My cooking.

I've been actually looking through my collection of recipes, going to the store, and making dinners that I haven't made in a year or so, just for a little variety in the days. Earlier this week I made a cabbage, cheese and beef broth soup that my mother-in-law used to make. Tonight we're having Moroccan chicken stew with olives, tomatoes, and chickpeas.

I think some of the appeal of trying to vary our diet is the smells. At the end of the dead of winter, I miss smells.

Yesterday I wore a brightly colored tank top underneath my winter layers, and when I saw it in the laundry basket early this morning, it looked like my swimming suit, which got me all excited for a minute before I fully woke up.

I think the speaker in Arda Collins' poem Spring is in the same kind of rut I am:

I was making a roast.
The smell wafted from the kitchen into the living room,
through the yellow curtains and into the sunlight.
Bread warmed in the oven,
and in my oven mitt, I managed to forget
that I'd ever punched someone in the face.
It seemed so long ago, I might not even have done it.
I went out into the yard before dark
and saw last year's rake on the lawn.
It was a cheap metal one
that tore up the old grass.
I did that for a while.
When I went back in the house,
the roast was burned black
and the bread was hard.
I sat on the couch and watched it get dark.
I was getting hungry, but I felt afraid
of seeing the refrigerator light go on.
Then I would have to turn on other lights,
and then what would I do?
I heard a car pass once in a while.
I thought about a time on vacation
when I bought a newspaper and tomatoes
from a supermarket I'd never heard of.
I remembered an old bathing suit I had,
but I couldn't think of what happened to it.
I could move away.
I could get in the car right now
and drive all night,
as soon as I had a sandwich.
Turkey, tomato, mayo,
Swiss, lettuce. It was exciting.
I still had my shoes on. I drove to a truck stop.
It was bright inside and I loved the world.
I bought a sandwich and ate it from my lap while I drove.
When I pulled up to my house it was quiet.

It was in the movie Buckaroo Banzai that I first heard the saying "wherever you go, there you are."


Amanda said...

Down here, we have the opposite problem. Summer lasts for six months and is excruciating. Lawns die, you can't go outdoors during certain parts of the day lest you get heat stroke, and you most certainly can never open the windows. The house becomes stale and claustrophobic. We don't need spring cleaning, because in the winter there are beautiful days where you can open your windows and air the house out. Instead, we have fall cleaning, when the first nights come that actually get cool enough to open up the house. Then it's time to dust all the fans and vents, clean the house up, and circulate new air.

Jeanne said...

Amanda, my sister-in-law always said the same thing--she lived in Texas for about 20 years--but I never took her quite seriously because she loves cold weather and I love hot weather. She lives in Chicago now. Obviously I need to move to Texas...or at least visit more often!

FreshHell said...

God, yes. I would love a 6-month summer. It can get unbearably hot and humid here but I'll take that over relentless snow and ice and cold.

You can imagine my ire last night when I left yoga class to find my car coated in heavy wet snow. It smacked at my windshield the whole way home and I cursed each and every flake.

Luckily, none of it stuck and this morning the sky was the grey ominousness of impending rain.

Valerie said...

Here winter is not normally snow, but rain. It usually starts in late October and the heaviest rains are in November. Then, most years, from December to March/April there are interminable days of drizzle. This year we have had early spring and fewer of the grey, drizzly days. One year we had 90+ days in a row of some form of rain. You don't have to shovel rain, but spring is definitely welcome when it arrives and the shoes finally get dry all the way through.

kittiesx3 said...

Well . . . I ran this morning BEFORE the rainy snow crap started up. I counted that as having given the finger to winter.

PAJ said...

Texas weather is a trial. We lived in east Texas (the rainy part). The heat arrived in April and stayed until November. I once saw a 3-year-old girl dressed in a bikini for her Halloween constume, and the outfit was entirely weather-appropriate.
I did love the annual Christmas parade and fireworks display in Nacogdoches. The weather was cool enough that you could sip hot chocolate but not so cold that you minded sitting on lawn chairs waiting for the parade to start.
But the heat of July and August was as Amanda describes.
And Jeanne, all that heat grows really big bugs!

Jeanne said...

Freshhell, when I shake my fist at cold weather, I'm always comforted that my misery has your company!

Valerie, I'm just beginning to get an idea of how pervasive the dampness can be out there! Shoes never drying out gets that across pretty well.

Elizabeth, I think it's kind of a northerner thing to pit yourself against bad weather. So you fit right in with those New Englanders...

PAJ, oh, yeah. I'd forgotten about the bugs. How could I have forgotten? Okay, I'm going to reverse the Faulkner line and intone to myself the rest of the day "I don't hate the north. I don't hate it."

readersguide said...

I am a little worried about that woman in the poem. Also, she is making me hungry.

Jeanne said...

Readersguide, that woman in the poem is me, minus kids. Good thing they keep me kind of grounded! Ask them about the food I burn sometime.

Care said...

I really enjoyed this post. LOVE your intro to the poem and I am struck by the unsettling effect the poem is having on me. Gah; winter.
How was dinner? sounds awesome. Wishing you some sunshine :)

Lori L said...

Oh yes, winter is dragging on for me too and I am tired of everything. I crave warm breezes, open windows, warm sunlight. Hopefully... soon...

Jeanne said...

Care, dinner was good enough that Ron said I should make it for guests sometime. "But not the ones who don't like their food all mixed together."

Lori L, open windows sound so nice. I grew up in an allergic household where the windows were never opened, but I'm an open window convert now.