Well, it’s that time of year again, here in Manitoba. When we batten down the hatches and say goodbye to our neighbors for a few months. When it drops to -30 degrees outside, there’s a choice to be made between socializing and surviving. Ha!
There is something to be said for this cold and stark time of year though. The elegant architecture of the trees around us is now on full display. Every winter, these graceful sentinels share new patterns from the previous summer’s growth with us and they are a sight to behold as they sway in the wind.
There is also a certain hush that falls across the land when it is blanketed white with fresh snow. Newly fallen snow crystals absorb sound waves resulting in a rather calm quietness in even the most densely populated areas.
Here at The Olenick House, we’ve almost got preparing for this time of year down to a science. Almost. It’s difficult to nail down an exact system because every winter is different. Some years render more snow than the city plows can handle. Other years, it actually becomes too cold to snow that much. The exterior temperature can also fluctuate quite a bit which makes keeping an interior temperature of 72F a challenge when you live in an old house and the winter wind comes whistling through all the cracks!
Yet, no matter how Mother Nature chooses to spin her winter yarn, Darren and I always manage to make things cozy.
One way I’ve decided to accomplish that is with color. Bright, happy color. Vitamin D deficiency runs rampant here in Manitoba at this time of year, so the happier, the better! A few weeks back, right after the first frost, a friend of mine invited me to accompany her to the Assiniboia Downs Antique Show. Boy! We had fun. So many beautiful things to feast the eyes on. One item that found its way home with me was a pair of hand-embroidered pillowcases presenting this lovely and delicate, yellow rose pattern with expertly threaded leaves and accents in variant shades of green. I just fell in love with them as I did with several other “must-haves”. These will be displayed prominently on our bed, with those happy flowers beaming in stark contrast to the white and gray landscape outside the windows opposite.
I find that a quick and easy way to cozy up the kitchen is by baking. I often pull double warming-up duty by baking something divine in the oven that we can enjoy with a hot mug of afternoon tea or coffee. On this day, I perused my cookbook shelves and my eye fell upon one that I had purchased while out with my sweet mom, some 25 years ago. My son was about to come into the world and I wanted to start collecting recipes that I could make for him as he grew. This particular one was all about cookies.
Flipping through the pages, a simple peanut butter cookie recipe seemed to jump out at me from the page. Perfect. The warmth of the oven and the aroma of the cookies filled the kitchen, while my heart filled with another kind of warmth, of sweet memories of my mom and my boy when he was little.
One most luxurious way to create that sense of coziness is to change out our spring duvet for a more lush winter one. Then cuddle up in bed on a particularly chilly night with a good book. This season is a fantastic one to catch up on all of our reading! So, I gather all of my been-meaning-to-read titles and place them within easy reach on my nightstand. As I’m busy ‘nesting’, Darren simply reloads his kindle. To each their own, I say! With some dependable reading lamps, some happy greenery and a candle to finish out the scene, we’re all ready for cozy.
While reading, the house seems to come alive as the song of the whispering winds flows through those tiny spaces. Yet any stir from wildlife outside is absent. They have diligently collected their rations and retreated toward safe haven. The temperature plummets as the sun disappears below the horizon so as night falls, the warmth factor within rises. The hearth with its glowing embers again becomes ablaze as Darren, I and Lily (our kitty) all settle down for a long winter’s nap.