White stuff

When the first big snowfall of the season is on its way, I start to twitch.

And I begin to feel like a little white haired lady.

Maybe even more so at holiday time.

It seems those white knuckle commutes have continued to lose their appeal for me over the decades.

Yet like every seasoned Minnesotan I still prepare.

I pen shopping lists with ingredients for hearty soups and stews.

And then shop to stock up for those chilly days ahead.

With snow predicted Monday, my first stop this morning was an indoor farmer’s market at the old garden center.

Walking in I was greeted by the smile of a skiing reindeer figurine at the junk store stand.

He reminded me of one owned by my Grandmother.

This fellow definitely needed a home.

I completed the adoption paperwork and handed over a five.

The old Rudolph will be my winter muse with the added responsibility of holding Christmas colored chocolate kisses when my own grandkids stop by.

After visiting the other vendors, I felt burdened and still a little old while balancing my reindeer and root vegetables on icy sidewalks.

And I needed to make one more stop at the grocery for the remaining canned goods.

But this time while entering the store, I was welcomed by my old high school hockey coach in his familiar houndstooth hat.

And he’d just written a memoir.

Coach was selling them right next to the ham salad I’ve been eating for decades

I bought a copy.

Coach is a legend around here and is still skating strong at age 83.

As we swapped stories a while, I discovered the man remembers dates and details from four decades ago.

And much better than me.

I was feeling like my younger me after our visit.

Once back home, I placed the little reindeer and book next to my writing desk for inspiration.

And I stored the hearty root vegetables in the frig.

But just for now.

I’ll be pulling the biggest carrot out for the snowman I’m making tomorrow night after my long commute.

I’m thinking I may just be a big kid after all.

Wonder what ever happened to my ice skates?

Reflections on gratitude

Every year, this particular week is one of reflection for me.

Along with Thanksgiving, I acknowledge my birthday, and that of a brother who died too young.

And once there was a wedding anniversary.

It would have been 29 years of marriage this week if my husband Richard was still with me.

I find my memories of years gone by are as warm as they are cold.

The recollections of steamy windows and turkey bastings still fill my heart, even if the details of faces around the Thanksgiving table are fading.

And birthday party gifts of little pilgrim candles still dance happily in my head, though in one a bit fuzzier.

Yet dark November commutes on icy roads driving Richard to his adult day care center in his last years still send a chill up my spine.

My Spode Christmas mug companion, lined with mistletoe and hot coffee, would turn cold as Coke by the time I’d cross the city line to New Hope each morning.

I’d try hard to be ‘of cheer’ but would fail miserably.

Typically mumbling to myself, “New Hope? How about ‘No Hope’?” as I’d drive off from the facility downtown to work.

Dementia can do that to a caregiver.

But I’ve learned there was hope back then, and perhaps there always is.

Not of a spouse recovering from an illness where there is no cure, but of a caregiver coping with acceptance, loss and finally moving forward.

I drove to the store in sunshine today to replenish my coffee supply for my Christmas mug that now rests on the kitchen counter.

As I first walked through the door, I was greeted by the scent of buckets of yellow roses and a happy clerk restocking them.

I was definitely tempted.

The price was good, but I walked on by.

I can’t just buy them for myself, I thought.

But I stopped, shifted into reverse, then picked up a bunch along with my French Roast.

Smiling at the friendly check out clerk, I said, “These are terrific! Just like the ones I held at my wedding 29 years ago today.”

I added my husband was now gone.

His face saddened some, but then he smiled as well.

I watched him attach a sticker to the cellophane wrapping.

A “paid” sticker, I thought.

“Here,” he said, handing them back to me. “No charge. Happy Anniversary!”

I admit a tear rolled down my cheek.

Ok. Maybe two.

But my gratitude far exceeded any sadness.

And isn’t that how it should be every Thanksgiving week?

I’m voting yes.