Glancing out my window this morning, I sighed. The leaves are almost all gone and the loveliness of autumn with them. However, winter has a charm all its own, and I am going to endeavor to enjoy the chance to have some winter fun and also kick back a bit and cocoon during the cold months ahead.
One great thing about living in West Virginia (and there are many great things) is the chance to experience the seasons. Some states do not have this luxury and must endure the same ole' same ole' all year 'round. We, however, always have something to look forward to as our seasons change every few months.
Now, that the leaves have peaked and many have fallen, and November begins this weekend with the clock going back an hour (don't forget), it is the perfect time to do the things you do not have time to do during the other months. So many guys and some gals really love this time for hunting in West Virginia. Don't laugh, but I bought my hunting license for the first time in my life this year. No, I don't eat anything I've made eye contact with, but I wanted to be able to supervise my boy if he wanted to hunt. Yes, I know how to shoot, quit your worryin'. I even have my weapons permit, so see even prissy women can handle a gun.
Now, back to the huntin' thingy. My guys watch the outdoor channel a lot and we've been surprised how many times these shows are filmed in West Virginia. We live in an absolute paradise of the outdoors, but often forget it. If you travel by plane into West Virginia, you will be amazed at how very vast our forests are. I mean this is wild country. When you can move 1 1/2 miles from Wal-Mart, as we have, and still have deer, bear, coyotes, bobcats and even cougars in your yard, you know you've arrived in Wild and Wonderful West Virginia.
I grew up in West Virginia, and know what hunting season does to many men. I mean when a man can eat a bologna sandwich in a tree stand on Thanksgiving Day and be happy, you know he loves to hunt. That was what my dad always said when we fussed at him to come to the house for an hour or two for Thanksgiving dinner. So hunters, this is your time: enjoy it.
Also, it is a terrific time for cold weather sports in West Virginia. In our area, it is only a hop, skip and a jump to the major ski resorts including Canaan Valley and Snowshoe and most people in other states drive hours to get here. There is skiing, tubing, snowboarding, ice skating, cross country skiing, air boarding (whatever that is) and all under an hour away. This would be a good time to get out your calendar and mark some dates to travel the short distance to one of these resorts this winter. Also, it doesn't take much of a hill to sleigh ride and hills are quite plentiful in or area.
One of my very most favorite memories of my dad (he passed away several years ago) is of him taking his truck to the bottom of the Cranberry River Road or Hunter's Haven Road (in Nicholas County) and building an enormous bonfire. Then, he filled the back of his pick up truck with kids and sleds. We would sleigh ride all the way down the road and warm up at the fire. He would then drive us back up the hill and we'd do it all over again. He had no idea of the memories he was creating for his four kids and our friends.
Also, this is a great time to work on projects in your home that you've been putting off. You know, organizing the school room better (oh, wait, that's me) or creating something. I was so impressed the other day at a patient's home at the beautiful afghans she was knitting. They were so warm and cozy and such a wonderful keepsake to her children and grandchildren. Projects are an excellent way to not only endure the winter but to enjoy it.
I love to do embroidery. Now, I rarely have time these days, but plan on it this winter. Reading books is another way to enjoy the cold and frosty days of winter.
Winter is also a time to celebrate. My kids joke that I celebrate everything. OK, so the Groundhog Day's supper was a bit much, but they will never forget it. The "Groundhogs in a Blanket" with dirt pie was a hit, so why are they complaining? However, they are also planning to never and I mean never, bring home a date for the first time on a holiday such as Columbus Day! Ha. No, I didn't celebrate it. I forgot it, but there's always next year. Celebrations and things to look forward to create good times and memories. We need not wait for good times to happen, we need to create good times for others and let the fun begin.
With all the sickness among us, this is also a great time to bring some soup to a sick individual or family. West Virginia is notorious in that respect. We watch out for one another, and in particularly our family and friends. Below is my very favorite chicken soup recipe:
Chicken Noodle Soup
1 whole chicken or package of chicken breast
chicken bouillon (3-4 cubes)
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon tarragon
salt and pepper to taste
Place all ingredients except noodles in a stock pot and simmer until chicken is tender. Remove chicken from pot and remove bones. Bring liquid to a full boil and add noodles. Cook until tender and add the chicken back to the soup.
The recipe I originally started with said to add one quart of water and didn't call for tarragon. However, one quart, in my opinion is not nearly enough soup, so I add much more in a huge pot and increase all the ingredients. Tasting it is the key when making a huge batch as I do. Also, I think the tarragon is the key ingredient to a much better soup.
Don't let the cold weather moving in discourage you. Decide instead to plan fun times, be creative, and let God love others through you when they are ill or down in the dumps.
(Kimberly Short Wolfe, MA, is a home school mom and is the grief counselor and a chaplain for Mountain Hospice. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 304-823-3922, ext.114.)