Northwest NEWS

March 8, 1999

Home & Garden

A blue, blue winter

by Bronwyn Burns-Wilson

   Last winter, there was no need for an article such as this on how to cope with the stress winter months can bring. In the winter of '98, Northshore residents enjoyed the benefits of El Nino. This phenomenon brought us a warmer than usual winter in which many of us watched our cherry trees blossom two months early. In addition, at our house, it didn't snow, not even once.

   My husband chided me, "You just had to have a four-wheel drive car for when it snowed." The money he could have saved had he not listened to me when we were car shopping was prominently on his mind. I said I was sure snow would fall and the vehicle would come in handy then. But, no snow.

   Other parts of the country were not as fortunate as we. On television, there were images of torrential rainstorms causing mudslides and floods. Stranded victims clung to ropes as helicopters lifted them from the hoods of their floating cars. In Malibu, California, mansions tumbled off cliffs and splashed into the Pacific Ocean. But here in Woodinville, I caught up on a much-needed tan last winter.

   This year, winter swept in, bringing us El Nino's evil little sister, La Nina. You see, nature must now punish us for having enjoyed ourselves way too much last winter.

   Now the rain has pounded us, never stopping for a break. Rainwater puddled up in our yards and in our Camaros with leaky T-tops. Puddles became lakes and some of us paddled boats from our front doors to our waterlogged cars.

   If that weren't enough, the winds then knocked us around. All kinds of strange objects flew by my window, even what looked like my neighbor's bed. Outside, the 60-mph winds toppled trees like wobbly toy soldiers. Crack. Thud. Missing our house, the trees aimed straight for the power lines.

   For me, going without power is somewhat bearable; we have a wood stove and hurricane lamps that help in times of power outage distress. But what gets to me is that our well goes out when the electricity fails and we have no water.

   My mood depends heavily on the availability of a hot shower. If I can't have one, then it's possible I'll develop a gloomy mood turning toward dangerous. It causes my family grave concern. They attempt to pacify me by driving miles out of town to find an open Domino's Pizza so they can bring home something delicious to keep my mind off the lack of hot water. Otherwise, if I'm not devouring a hot slice of pizza, I'm thinking about unpleasant ways to get even with the world. But fortunately, I've learned a coping technique that helps me much more than a large combination pizza oozing with melted cheese.

   Here's what works. When the winter blues hit and I'm fresh out of St. John's Wort, I visualize spring. I close my eyes and think of a bright, sunny day in May.

   You try it. Mentally picture wisteria lushly draped from your arbor in beautiful lavender blooms. Imagine hearing birds conducting a bird-opera in your one tree that didn't collapse in the windstorm. Go with it.

   Do you see yourself lounging on an Adirondack chair in your back yord? I see you. You're wearing a hot pink bikini. No, wait. That's your daughter's Barbie doll in the bikini. There you are, the one in the maroon muu muu. In your hand is a frosty cold drink which has a teeny paper umbrella bobbing amidst ice cubes.

   Do you feel the warmth of the sun splashing over your toned and tanned body? (If you already have a toned and tanned body, you may delete this last part from your visualization exercise.) Now, don't you feel better? I know I certainly do.

   And, as for all those branches and brush and the neighbor's four-poster heaped in the front yard and waiting for clean-up ... I'm visualizing my husband and son with wheelbarrow and rake.