The Christmas trees are down, and all the decorations are put away for another year.  Outside lights are also down, which means the electric bill can return to some measure of normalcy.  The celebration of the New Year, with accompanying resolutions for self-improvement, are also in the rear-view mirror.

From around North America, reports are coming in of cold weather, snow, and dull gloomy days.  The pictures of fresh snow glinting on the ground are pretty, as are the ones of falling snowflakes being tossed about in the wind.  Ten degrees and four inches of snow in Zuni.  Fifteen degrees and a foot of snow in high-altitude Santa Fe.  Five degrees and two feet of snow in high-altitude Flagstaff.  We don’t even want to consider Minneapolis or Winnipeg – negative temperature reports send chills up my spine.  Another wintry season settles in, as we all cross off the days until spring returns.  We passed the winter solstice last month, and the days steadily grow longer and longer, but winter will still have its icy grip on us for weeks to come.

Yet, somehow, we survive this annual cycle of cold and warm.  Snow and sunshine.  The winter is the time when many artists work hard in their studios and homes, transforming raw clay into stunning pottery; putting pigments to canvas; molding silver into ornate jewelry.  This is the season of preparing for the new year, getting ready for upcoming exhibitions and fairs, and figuring out how to be successful when the weather changes back to uplifting warmth.

Yes, I admit it freely – I am a sunshine person.  I adore the long days of bright sun, basking in its comforting rays.  My garden plants grow, colorful flowers bloom, and the birds sing their happy songs.  It seems to me that the whole world comes alive in the spring, awakening from its long, dreary winter slumber.  On days like today, when we have limited sunshine, near freezing temperatures throughout the day, and a layer of ice on the birdbath, I huddle in my gallery beneath layers of clothes and even a blanket or two, shivering with the cold.  Thick wooly socks fail to keep my feet warm, and there is no hope for ever getting my cold nose warm again – until the gentle caress of spring’s warm breezes.

It is said that living in the Deep South thins the blood, and makes one less resistant to cold weather.  I went to college in Oklahoma, and lived there for a few years afterwards, but I guess back then I was hardier.  In the 90’s, I moved to Colorado, and suffered through a couple of winters there.  I returned to Texas to let my blood gracefully thin once again.  I fully believe that saying about thin blood, and also believe that I am living proof of it.

For those living in the north (by which I mean everyone north of the Texas border), I tip my hat in appreciation of your abilities to survive in the winter.  I know that you have winter activities, like strapping two pieces of wood to your feet and sliding down mountains, or cutting a hole in a frozen lake and waiting for fish to investigate.  I admire that you are embracing your situation and finding satisfaction in these activities, and even sharing pictures and videos on Facebook and other social media.  But, sadly, I must decline to partake of these activities on my own.  I raise my cup of hot chocolate in salute to each of you, and cross another day of winter from my calendar.

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