True winter cold set in over our region the past week and it brings to mind some memories of my childhood winters in cold southwestern Colorado.
I remember the winters seeming to stretch out longer than they really did. The daylight was short but the days seemed to drag on and on. I remember dripping faucets to prevent pipes from freezing, caring for our rabbits and poultry to keep them warm enough, and the never-ending chore of carrying in firewood to warm our home.
I realized we were planning for the cold even on the warmest days of summer. We would make trips to the high country several times a year to cut our own firewood for those winter stores. My father would fell an aspen or evergreen, cut it into manageable lengths, and my brother and I would carry and stack the firewood into the bed of the pickup truck. We would drive home and unload and re-stack the wood to cure for winter.
We did this anticipating the cold winter would bring. We did not enjoy this task; however, we thoroughly enjoyed the heat our summer labor provided. Further examining this ritual of preparation had me looking at what I do on a day-to-day basis just to make life more liveable tomorrow. I do a load of dishes or laundry to have dishes and clothes ready to use when I need them, prepare a meal to enjoy later, show up to work so I can earn money to pay my bills, and take my medication today so I feel well tomorrow. I fill up my gas tank in my spare time so I do not have to do it when rushed. In the spring, I plant seeds because I hope for zucchini and okra in the hot summer days.
We live our lives anticipating the next season. We plan for tornados and heat waves and ice storms. We plan for survival. However, I find we often neglect our minds as we plan for the various events life brings our way. We may survive, but are we really thriving? Is it a life we are living, or are we merely staving off death and hardship one day at a time?
I think since the COVID 19 pandemic became part of our lives, many of us are merely surviving and hardly thriving at all. I think the cold is a reminder of just how capable we are of surviving despite hardship. However, after this passes, I urge everyone to remember to stop and live. To breathe in the air, to watch the sunset, to enjoy the way new grass feels on our feet, to revel in the sweet taste of summer watermelon and remember we are alive to do much more than survive. We are here to live.
Check on your neighbors, keep your pets and livestock cared for, drip those taps, and remember--we can survive today, but at some point we must remember to stop and live.
Sarah Mears-Ivy brings 13 years of experience in the field of human sciences and advocacy.