By Mary Anna Violi | @Mary Anna Violi
As a hearty Italian American in the Heartland, I have learned how to brave winter. When winter visits a snowstorm upon us, we Midwesterners prepare and hunker down to ride out the iciness of it all. As we anticipate the worst snowstorm and subzero temperatures in twenty years, I offer engaging activities to occupy one’s self.
1. Grocery Shopping, Preferably before the Snowstorm - I stocked up on eggs [poached, scrambled, or in a fritatta or quiche], tuna [I love tuna salad when snowbound], soup [in case I am too lazy to make my own], cannellini beans [in case I do rouse myself to make soup], bread [okay, I forgot to buy the bread, even though it was on my grocery list], P.F. Chang’s frozen shrimp dumplings, ricotta [a must for Italians], low-fat vanilla yogurt [my ice cream substitute, sort of], garbanzo beans [because they are so delicious roasted stove top in olive oil], and honey [in a teddy bear bottle, of course].
2. Dining Out Hours Before the Snowstorm - After I did the Readings at 5:30 p.m. Mass last evening, it had not yet begun to snow. A friend phoned me. Did I want to dine out before the estimated 8:00 p.m. snowfall? It was 6:43 pm., I noted, but sure, why not? A nearby Japanese restaurant was packed with like-minded individuals. However, we instead nabbed a booth at my favorite neighborhood Italian restaurant. A salad and baked rigatoni sated me; in fact, I took half of it home, anticipating it would make a fine Sunday lunch, had hunger pangs not attacked at 10:00 p.m., I would have eaten the baked rigatoni for lunch. As I wound my way up the hilly winding drive to my friend’s abode in what was now heavy snowfall, I looked forward to nestling inside my warm home.
3. Putting Away Christmas Decorations - While my daughter and I had taken down the Christmas tree, the boughs that decorated the archways and windows, there were still plenty of Christmas decorations left for me to store. This morning a stray CD of Christmas tunes manifested itself under a bough tossed on the desk. A Santa Claus statue and a large musical Santa snow globe still grace an end table. The Christmas stockings, while taken down, are draped over a dining room chair. In the bathroom a Christmas tree with bright ornaments and a wreath hung on the wall beckon to be put away for winter slumber. A pair of Christmas socks my daughter forgot to retrieve from the clean laundry basket surfaced today too.
4. Updating the Nativity - Yesterday before she left a day ahead of schedule for law school due to the severe winter storm warnings, my daughter remarked that we had not brought out the Three Kings [We Three Kings of Orient Are…remember]. Consequently, this morning, I hauled out the Three Kings and their three dromedaries [camels], and I boxed up the shepherds, their sheep, their cats, and their dog. Tomorrow, January 6, is the Feast of the Epiphany [and my brother’s birthday]. The Three Kings should be present in The Nativity, and besides, they are beautifully attired.
5. Cleaning Up the Ranch, so to Speak - After the mayhem of packing to return to school, settling Shelton Rae, her cat, in his plush travel carrier, transferring Poseidon, her red Beta fish, from his tank to his large pitcher travel container, and my packing up the cooler with Italian beef, homemade macaroni and cheese, yogurt, eggs, bread [I remembered to buy her a loaf], I awoke to the reality of gritty floors. On this frosty Sunday morn as the snow flies nonstop, I vacuumed the house and rugs. At least I’m not hearing crunch, crunch, crunch, under my feet as I move from room to room.
6. Re-imagining Wall Décor - In taking down pictures in late November to hang Christmas art on the walls, I realized that I was ready for a change of scenery. Throwing on a CD of Adele, I sang and danced as I repositioned artwork. I even moved pictures to others rooms where they offer a new perspective for a New Year.
7. Brewing Tea - Nothing says, “Drink me” like freshly brewed tea. Inveterate coffee drinkers with substitute “Brewing Tea” for “Brewing Coffee”, which is perfectly fine for java aficionados. After cleaning the house, putting away Christmas decorations, and brewing tea or coffee, it is time to settle into an easy chair, and sip the hot beverage.
8. Watching the Snow Fall - When winter keeps me housebound, I marvel at the beauty of the winter wonderland outside my windows. The trees and shrubs glisten in winter white garb, the rooftops in the neighborhood glow with their white cover. Throughout my life I have relished the hush a snowstorm provides; its quiet is relaxing. Imbibing my tea, I feel content as I view the bounteous winter landscape stretched out before me as our cats, Fellini and Coco Chanel, nap.
9. Reading - In my bungalow snow palace, I sit and read, uninterrupted since I cannot venture out. It is a blessing to have hours to re-read a Jane Austen treasured book, and even begin reading a signed book my brother bought me for my birthday: The Stonecutter’s Aria by Carol Faenzi.
10. Writing - Writing offers a fine creative outlet during a snowstorm. Instead of thinking about writing a short story, novel, poem, or a blog, or penning those gift thank-you’s. A snowstorm offers the gift of time for one to begin these artistic endeavors. Of course, this assumes one has neither power, nor heat.
Ciao for now.