I can not tell a lie- snow makes me giddy. The tepid winters in central Ohio have left me disappointed and wishing for crisp polar vortex air, frosted apartment windows and ice crystals on my eyelashes.
I was so, and excuse what may sound very hyperbolic, fulfilled this week when my phone said it was 20 degrees outside with a forecast for snow for the next two days. Winter, I think, is a dying art. When we retire we are urged to ‘winter in Florida’, which as a phrase is contradictory. We have alarm clocks that make artificial sunlight to wake us even when the actual sun is telling us to snuggle in deeper for a while. We have cars that warm themselves up while we stay cosy on the couch. With a push of a button we have deleted the small, brutal adventure of getting into a freezing car and arriving at your destination as the heat only just began to make it comfortable enoough to hold the steering wheel without gloves.
It is fine if winter doesn’t appeal to you. It is painted as a nusance, a fly-over season to get to the warmer and funner months. But by wishing for January to be over you are missing so much.
I know this doesn’t seem much like a baking post- but it really is. Winter is the oven’s time to shine. It is the oven’s time to add extra warmth to the home. I think of my mom as I write this who always leaves the oven open after she has turned it off and leans over it toasting her hands and torso over the extra heat.
Say we forget every holiday that winter brings, each bringing a new reason to cook and bake for ourselves and others. Every warm mug of hot liquid you wrap your hands around is always made better by a slice of banana bread, a cookie, a scone. The winter itself offers a respite from the dreariness in citrus season. Bright oranges and yellows, fresh tartness and zesty oils can combine into a temporary ray of vitamin D in your kitchen if you go through the effort to bake it.
Winter can be hard and dreary. I think we often feel stuck inside rather than cocooned and sheltered. My favorite lesson I learned living in Minnesota is that winter will come, always. The four months of frozen air, of white and gray, will come and when the first flakes fall you have a choice to make. You can choose to see the swirling snow as inconvenient walks to the mailbox, as stuck cars and annoying driving conditions, as pale, dry skin and the singular pain of slipping on ice.
Or you can make the harder choice and nestle in the magical, beastly weather with the rest of your neighbors.
You can shovel sidewalks with a light step and welcome the switch up from the usual by helping push cars out of drifts. You can embrace the bundle, the sophisticated and deliberate layering of clothes, to make sure your body heat is captured just long enough to walk to the bar. I choose to see the snow falling and the wind howling as a nudge to the kitchen, my mixing bowls and the few recipes I deem only wintery enough to be made right now. And then I will watch and relish as my windows become sweaty from the heat inside meeting the snow globe outside.