Putting Away the Winter Clothes


Today is June 20th in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and I think I can finally say, with no hesitation, that winter is over.

Doesn’t the calendar say this happens in late March? Doesn’t it feel like it happens in late April or early May? Hasn’t it been green here for two solid months already? For the love of the garden, isn’t tomorrow the first day of summer?

Yes. However, this past winter was the most thoroughly bone-freezingly, unremittingly grey and interminable one of my life.

In a literal sense, it was so cold that the windows in my dining room spontaneously cracked–a long diagonal splinter from top right to bottom left.

It was so cold and grey that we bought a light box right after the New Year (Too late, actually. Apparently you should start using these things on Labor Day for maximum efficacy against SAD. Next year.) and I sat in front of that thing for 40 minutes every morning while I sipped coffee from my cheeriest yellow mug and tried to feel better. (Every little bit helps.)

The cold got into the house, under my sweater and settled into my cells. I mean this physically, and I also  mean this spiritually. I have not felt warm, have not felt like me, in months and months.

Part of this, I know, has to do with the nature of the Transition Year. We are coming up on our one-year anniversary of the move to Pittsburgh from State College, and my first year in my new job.

love my new job. And I love my new city.

But, wow. I’ve hardly had time to take a breath for all the newness and change. I’ve been necessarily focused on learning the job and getting my family into a quasi routine–something we’re not terribly inclined toward. I’ve let my own creative work fall away, and that has only added to my feelings of alienation and isolation.

And yet, slowly and quietly–much more quietly than in previous years, when we could look out the back window one day and see the maple tree winter-bare, and the next, exploded with leaves–the sap has risen back up and I’m feeling again, finally, like I can tend some things.

Green things like my new garden, prepared with my neighbors and our children. We’re growing tomatoes, kale, squash, peas, carrots, herbs, cabbage, radishes, peppers and cucumbers! Things are going well:



And even time to tend–to return to tending–to things like my memoir. I had said I was going to leave it be, and I have, for six months.

Now, I recommit myself. On the advice of some readers I trust, I’ve re-titled it. I’ve re-worked the structure somewhat. I’ve revised my query materials, and decided to try approaching agents once again.

And my efforts have yielded some fruit! I’ve had some initial interest that has left me feeling more energized, more affirmed. At the same time, a trusted friend is reading through it for me, readying global comments. I’m excited to hear what she has to say, and gathering the energy I might need if it looks like, yes, there needs to be a major overhaul.

So, Spring came, but I missed it. It’s been a long, slow thaw. But I’m happy to see things are growing again. I’m putting on my sun hat. I’m heading out to harvest and make something delicious out of it.




One thought on “Putting Away the Winter Clothes

  1. Burebinzu Jonii says:

    Kristen tried to grow tomato plants this summer. Needless to say, summer bummer. Your everything, especially the bok choy, looks incredible, at least. Excited for you, Ms. Sheila. I know your new job is happy to have you.

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