Cold winter days make warmth of home more inviting

Susan Manzke

Since we are in the depths of winter, I thought I’d write about this cold season today.

The snowman Susan built wearing her earmuffs.

I would love to take my dog for a long walk, but I won’t. It is too slippery today. Years ago, I’d be trekking down the farm lane with snow blowing in my face. Not these days. I’m afraid of falling. A tiny patch of hidden ice can take me down to the ground. I don’t want to risk breaking a bone.

I ventured out to the mailbox not long ago when I shouldn’t have. Six inches of snow had fallen and blown across the driveway. It was difficult to see how deep the drifts had gotten and too easy to misjudge.

Halfway to the mailbox, I wished I had stayed inside the house. My cell phone was in my pocket, but I was sure I would have landed on it and broken it if I fell. For sure, no one would have found me until spring—I really scared myself.

Since each step took me closer to the mailbox, I kept going in that direction. With a bitter wind blowing across the open field into my face, I retrieved my mail.

The walk back to the house was just as harrowing. I decided never to do that again. The mail can wait until spring, or my neighbor plows the snow from my driveway. 

My dog would love it if I would take her for a long walk. She has a dog yard where she can run, but that’s not good enough for her. Stella wants to walk around the farm. She likes the smells farther afield, where wildlife crosses the land.

Stella wears a dusting of snow on her face after hunting for voles in the new fallen snow.

I figured out a way to make Stella happy. I take her for a walk without going for a walk myself.

Besides her four-foot leash, we have an extendable leash that gives her more freedom.

Before leaving the house, I click the extendable leash on her collar, and we walk out the back door. That’s where I give Stella her freedom, for about 25 feet.

I find a safe place to stand, where there’s a spot clear of ice, and let my dog run to the end of the leash. Soon she has her face in deep in the snow, sniffing out deer mice or voles. I know they are around because when the snow melts, I’ve seen their trails.

Stella doesn’t stay in one place long. She comes back to me only to race past in another direction. I let her run back and forth, hoping to work out some of her energy. Of course, I’m not getting a lot of exercise walking my dog this way, but it’s a whole lot safer for my old bones.

This week, with below-average temperatures, I’m staying inside more. Even when I dress in multiple layers, the cold still seeps in, and I end up shivering—the only thing good about going outside on frigid days is that the house seems so much warmer when I come back inside.

When I was young, I couldn’t get enough of winter. I skated on the marsh near my home. I wasn’t alone. My sister, my dad, and my mom would also come out, most of our little neighborhood did. I wore hockey skates. Don’t know where they came from, they looked new when I first got them. I doubt Mom bought them. My sister had white figure skates. We also had sleds for exciting rides and snowball fights with our cousins—so many good memories.

Earlier this winter, when the first snow fell, I built a snowman all by myself. It’s long gone now, but I just wanted to say that I can still enjoy a nice winter day, even if I do complain about the cold.

Happy February! One month closer to spring!

Susan Manzke, Sunnybook Farm, N8646 Miller Rd, Seymour, WI 54165;;;