A Naughty Tease

For three glorious days, the earth sucked up snow as fast as the sun could melt it. We walked outside in sweatshirts ditching heavy jackets, hats, mittens, and boots. Buoyant, joyous, we scoured the roadside for signs of flowers. I picked pussywillows. Temperatures climbed to the seventies.

Yesterday, it rained all day. Any traces of winter that had lingered were gone. Wet-dirt scent, reminiscent of plowing and weeding, triggered nostalgic farm memories.

Today, a blizzard whipped horizontally past my windows dropping a white shroud over yesterday’s Spring.

This is Minnesota.

The nastiness outside gives me permission to light candles, cuddle in slouchy clothes, and do as close to nothing as possible. By nothing, I mean nothing that resembles work. Gazing at the blustering snow, reading, writing, pondering…these are acceptable pastimes for a day like today.

So I’m pondering…pondering the impact of the different environments I’ve experienced over the past twelve years.

In Ubud, Bali, eight degrees south of the equator, day and night were virtually equal parts dark and light – sunrise at 6:30 a.m. and sunset at 6:30 p.m. It varied by several minutes over the course of a year, but not much. Nestled in the foothills of volcanic Mt. Agung, the landscape was perpetually green and the air dripped humidity with two seasons: rainy and not quite so rainy. Balanced. Predictable. Easy. I never grew tired of the eternal youth of Bali, the jungle foliage, the sensory overload of sight, sound, and smell, and the kind, hospitable Balinese people.

Photo credit: Sharon Lyon

San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, was the color of sand, except when the jacarandas bloomed bathing the city in violet. At twenty-one degrees north of the equator, and 6,135 feet above sea level, SMA was high and dry. The sun baked down during the day but come January and February, there was a bite to the evening air. The architecture, the people, the food, the mountaintop vistas, were extraordinary. But I found I didn’t resonate with the desert aesthetic, and I was never entirely certain that my presence was welcomed by the locals or merely tolerated.

Now I’m 46.7 degrees north of the equator and approximately 1,200 feet above sea level. I’m surrounded by family. I don’t need to wonder if I’m welcome. It’s a far different story, and so is the climate. I’d just gotten comfortable with summer when the leaves went crimson and left the trees naked. I blinked and the world turned white overnight. Snow accumulated in epic proportions, shifting and drifting, swirling whorls around the pines. Nights descended earlier and darkness delayed morning. Focused on getting my house habitable, months passed. Sometimes, I’d stop and marvel at the crystalline purity of blinding, bridal white.

Then, without warning, it was gone. In its place, brown remains of dead vegetation, nude, gray branches, and sticky, oozing, mud met the eyes as far as they could see.

Now, three days later….it’s back! Whiteness. Winter. Everywhere.

I’m glad I’ve experienced other climates and the customs and cultures they spawned. Bali felt young. San Miguel was ancient. Here, cycling through the seasons, I’m in touch with the passage of time: birth, growth, aging, death. I feel aligned and in tune with the reality of life’s terminal nature. It makes me more introspective than I already am – makes me treasure my time on this planet more than I already do, makes me grateful for every experience, blissful or traumatic, that contributed to the unusual path I’ve walked.

And…it makes me hungry! There’s something about cold and snow that generates a ravenous appetite! Out of necessity, I’m learning how to cook. I sort of knew the basics, once upon a time. But this climate requires more than tofu and salad. The body here needs starch and protein, fat, and sugar in quantities I haven’t seen on my plate in decades.

It’s an adjustment. Everything is. But if there’s one thing I have in spades, it’s flexibility. If there’s another thing, it’s determination to thrive where I’m planted. So now, if you’ll excuse me, it’s time to go cook something.

9 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. judybali
    Apr 17, 2023 @ 08:32:02

    Wow such extremes of weather there but great weather for introspection. Mastering cooking eh!? Do you have a slow cooker Sherry? I have one and they are a wonderful thing to cook in I find for the cold weather and the warmth and the smells thoroughly permeate the house.

    Liked by 1 person


  2. Diane Struble
    Apr 18, 2023 @ 02:04:33

    You are not alone. After two days over 87 degrees, we had a bridging day or two and then over an inch of snow which covered trees and lawns once again. The following day, the snow was gone
    , but never fear, it is said to be returning later in the week. I love four seasons. They are reality. Nice to hear that you are happy re-experiencing them as well.

    Liked by 1 person


    • writingforselfdiscovery
      Apr 18, 2023 @ 07:40:30

      It’s surreal. To experience the kind of weather that drove me away and find myself loving it is wild. I know part of it is the fact that I’m retired…I don’t have to function in it as I did when I was working in Minneapolis. I don’t have to battle icy streets, brown slush, traffic jams. I can just watch it unfold from my comfy-cozy nest and be charmed.



  3. Gail Brown
    Apr 19, 2023 @ 04:48:20

    Hi Sherry, I don’t even know what to say. I am not vaguely as articulate as you. However, I somehow just know that I could never live in your current world – as lovely as it is to you and such a warm experience to come home to. However, I somehow know intuitively that I am a warm climate person. Bali absolutely resonates within me. It somehow is me. I love Australia, our climate, our lifestyle- everything. But Bali is where my heart is. Not just Bali, but Penestanan, and all our friends both Balinese and Western.
    I absolutely know that you understand what I am trying to say. xxx

    Liked by 1 person


    • writingforselfdiscovery
      Apr 19, 2023 @ 06:11:17

      I understand completely. I was so certain that Bali was my forever home that I made arrangements for my cremation there. But Covid came with isolation, daily monkey invasions, and the fear that I would never see my children and grandchildren again. That year-and-a-half of trauma changed my priorities. I adore my friends in Bali and love the warm climate. But during that terrifying time I developed an irrevocable need to be close to my family. So here I am, loving the north country and learning more about myself every day. What we think we know and believe we want works until it doesn’t. Then we move on.



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