Finding the Joy in WinterPosted January 7, 2019
by Tracy Riekenberg
When I came to interview for this job at All Seasons Preschool, it was a warm August day. My family had just come back from a week in Tennessee exploring the Great Smoky Mountains. I had spent the summer going for walks and runs along the Mississippi River near my home in St. Paul. My daughter and I were looking forward to Girl Scout camp that coming weekend. I was riding high on summer-loving.
So when Amy and Sarah Sivright talked about going outside every day and exploring all the different areas of the property, I couldn’t have been more excited.
Then…. winter came.
I have a confession: winter is my very least favorite season. I don’t like being cold. I don’t like scraping my car windows (I don’t park in the garage). I don’t like driving in snow. I don’t like how dark it is ALL THE TIME. I have awful memories from my childhood of putting my feet in bread baggies and then in my boots so my feet would stay dry (spoiler alert: they never ever did!) and snow crusties forming on my cold, raw wrists. I don’t ski; I don’t skate; I don’t play hockey. My preferred winter activity involves hot cocoa, a fuzzy blanket, and a good book.
Needless to say, this winter at All Seasons has been an adjustment.
At first, I was worried I wouldn’t live up to my job interview. Would Amy or Sarah or the teachers find out that I don’t like winter and rethink their hiring me?? Would the cold and snow cast a shadow over the things I love so dearly about working with children? Would I even survive!?!??
Like when our families enroll here, I had to do some shopping for the right equipment. I didn’t own a warm winter coat (mine was sufficient for walking from my home to my car), snowpants, or a neck warmer. I had to dig into my storage bins for boots and warm mittens.
But you know what? With the proper gear, the winter hasn’t been too bad! It is true what they say: there’s no bad weather; only bad clothing.
Over the winter holiday break, I even used my snowpants and boots for some outdoor activities. My eight-year old daughter, a true Minnesotan, loves cold and snow and skating and sledding and being outdoors in the winter. I decided to go along with her desires. We went ice skating at the community rink near our house. She’s a whiz at it. I just hobbled along.
The most “out there” winter activity we did over break was a candlelight hike on New Year’s Eve at Fort Snelling State Park. In years past, I don’t know if going outside, in the dark, in the bitter cold winds, on New Year’s Eve would have been on my radar, but I like to think working at All Seasons had a bit to do with my gumption. My husband, daughter, son, and aunt (visiting from Belize, of all places!) bundled up in every bit of winter clothing we could find. Extra hats, scarves, boots, snowpants, and mittens came out of storage. In fact, we were so bundled that we all began to sweat on the short drive to the state park.
The hike was beautiful. We have been to this state park in the city often in the summer, but never in the winter. The park rangers had lined walking paths with candle luminaries – some even made out of ice! There were bonfires and s’mores and hot cocoa along the way. We even walked out on the frozen lake (a first for most of us!). In all, we hiked about three miles that night. And only in the cold crosswinds did any of us complain about being frozen. My winter-loving daughter was in heaven. My snack-loving son found joy in the s’mores. My Kansas-born husband remarked he never did anything like this growing up. My Central-American-living aunt exclaimed she couldn’t wait to tell her friends back in Belize what she did on New Year’s Eve.
And as for me, I found joy in winter, all bundled in my new snowpants and coat, hiking in my warm winter boots, wrapped up in a scarf my mom made. The beauty of the night and the freshness of the New Year ahead overpowered any dislike of the coldness. The night was perfect, and dare I say I look forward to more Winter activities in 2019.
Happy New Year!