Is there anything better than the taste and smell of citrus on a cold February morning? One slice in and my whole kitchen is instantly filled with a blend of sweet and sour, melding into a zesty combination that is pure sunshine. I have been fortunate for much of my adult life to have fresh-squeezed at the start of my day. Certainly this is a privileged luxury in my northeast corner in winter. For the last decade of my mother’s life, one of her first tasks when she arrived in Jupiter, Florida, each January, was to order a big box of honey-bell oranges and ruby-red grapefruits straight from the fruit grove to be mailed to us. Despite the constant snowy vista beyond our window, this liquid gold is the certain elixir that keeps us believing that Spring will come, eventually.
It strikes me as privilege to begin again. For a door to open when before there were only walls. There is no doubt my life has unfolded with tremendous privilege from the get-go. My first memorable do-over happened at 16 when living at home with my parents no longer suited any of us in that scenario. The whys are a whole other story, but after a short search, my parents landed me in a New England boarding school for my last two years of high school. Standing in a dorm room with my mother, my trunk and suitcase unpacked next to my unmade extra-long single, she told me, in no uncertain terms, to break from my childhood nickname, from all the troubles incurred in my childhood home, and leave behind everything that still tied me down. This is your chance, she whispered before leaving me in that unknown landscape. Needless to say, I stumbled, only to find myself lost in the dark, unprepared for such broad horizons. I was raised in the dust-storm of a large household not sure what part of me was me; I found myself hesitant what to choose when the whole palette of decisions was there for me to pick from. So confused, I fell into the blackness of night for many years. As Katherine May so artfully described, “Winter had begun.”
“By winter, she means not just the cold season, but “a fallow period in life when you’re cut off from the world, feeling rejected, sidelined, blocked from progress, or cast into the role of an outsider“” (Mcalpin).
My school district is infamous for never calling a snow day. Perhaps there is some logical reason we never have one even when in every direction other schools have cancelled, but I’m not privy to any reason beyond yankee pride. Thankfully, students and teachers alike miraculously make it despite the scary road conditions or the below freezing temps. But yesterday school was called, and it felt like a gift for sure. No rising in the dark, no trying to figure out how to maneuver out of the snowdrifts before our plow guy does his job, no slippery slide hoping to stay on the road, just me in my pj’s for hours sipping tea and watching the white stuff fall fast and heavy. Been living in a snow globe for months on end but today felt like a peek into a wondrous winter wonderland.