Painting winter blues in shades of sea greenBefore the industrial economy, before the age of technology, we were an agricultural society. Living was connected to the earth and life revolved around the seasons. In the spring, we planted; in the summer, we tended; in the fall, we harvested; and in the dark months of winter, we rested — winter activities centered on hearth and home.
By: Judith Liebaert, Superior Telegram
Before the industrial economy, before the age of technology, we were an agricultural society. Living was connected to the earth and life revolved around the seasons. In the spring, we planted; in the summer, we tended; in the fall, we harvested; and in the dark months of winter, we rested — winter activities centered on hearth and home.
The days from mid-January to late-March are much like the resting time of old if you happen to be of retirement age, or like me, work from your home. Call it cabin fever, call it winter doldrums, or call it stir crazy. Whatever you name it, it’s here for the next two or three months.
There are many, many advantages of working from home — not having to travel icy roads in treacherously low temperatures is probably the biggest. A casual wardrobe is nice too, and a quiet house means far less distractions.
Starting work at the crack of dawn is another benefit, along with getting a few hours in during the middle of the night because sleep is elusive so I may as well be productive. Either way, it means that by lunchtime I’ve already put in my day. For the next five hours, I know what it feels like to be retired in northern Wisconsin during the winter months when you don’t like to play in the snow and ice.
A person can do only so many jigsaw puzzles. Winter cleaning frees up my springtime schedule for venturing out and about in the warming weather, but again, I can only do so much cleaning.
OK, I could probably do more, heaven knows there is always more cleaning to do, but that’s not going to happen.
Gardening catalogs arriving in the mail are a distraction, but in some ways a torment as well; the days of feeling the warm, crumbling soil of my garden are months away.
What I need is a big project to occupy my mind and get me moving. It’s generally about this time of year I start eyeing up the house for redecorating and remodeling. Not coincidentally, it’s about this time my hubby starts talking about travel.
I blame my mother for instilling this compulsion to re-feather my nest constantly. Mom and dad bought fixer-uppers, six by my count, and mom was an expert at the fixing. Being the youngest and always underfoot, I became her assistant in the last three homes.
When I was barely out of kindergarten, I was helping her lay vinyl tiles over our entire basement floor. The tiles were a colorful mix of remainders left from commercial jobs that my father was able to purchase for pennies on the dollar. It was like putting together a crazy quilt.
Not many years after that, I was handed a hammer and crow bar to help her demolish a wall separating two rooms. A few years later, I donned rubber gloves and a filter mask to help her strip and refinish the kitchen cabinets. Then I helped her install the Z-Brick on the backsplash when the cabinets were dry. It was the 70’s Z-Brick was big.
From the age of ten, I was on my own patching the cracks that reappeared annually in the lath and plaster walls of my bedroom, and repainting in the color of my choice — except for purple, mom vetoed purple. Before I left home, I learned how to install wallboard and ceramic tile, switch out light fixtures, repair or replace a leaking faucet and reupholster furniture.
It’s in my nature — long winter months and idle hands turn my thoughts to demolition and reconstruction. I’m thinking the bathroom is ready for an update. I’ve already picked out new fixtures, tub surround, tile and cabinetry without ever leaving home. One good thing about technology, it gives new meaning to the term window-shopping.
As soon as my husband gets wind of this, I’ll be able to make all our travel arrangements online too. I think Key West would be nice this time of year.
Judith Liebaert was raised in Superior and now lives in rural Douglas County. She blogs on-line as the Mad Goddess™. Send your comments or story ideas to firstname.lastname@example.org.