Escape from Winter
By Diane Hirsch
Looking out my window at all the snow and ice, I can’t help but wonder if winter will ever end.
The northeastern part of the U.S. has been particularly cold and snowy this winter, giving me a serious case of the winter blues.
|It’s colder here than in Sochi, Russia where the winter Olympics are taking place.
I used to like winter, but I’ve had enough.
I would trade in my snow shovel even for the things I dislike about summer like insects, sunburn, perspiration-soaked clothes and the feeling of never having enough water to drink.
Knowing that we have weeks to go before even the faintest signs of spring appear, I go into survival mode and turn my thoughts to warmer climes. Some people may dream of escaping to a tropical island, but I dream of sunny southern Italy.
I start planning my escape and whether or not I get to go back any time soon, just planning it saves me from the icy thoughts of the next snowstorm.
Take my friend, Michele, for example.
We had never met but we share a passion for Matera and had been corresponding by email for months.
We met for the first time last summer and his whole family welcomed mine, each of them taking the time over the course of several days to show us their town.
I thought I knew a lot about Matera, but Michele and his son took us on a walk throughout the town teaching us so much more about its history and its secrets.
In the evenings our teenage daughters got together and Michele’s daughter introduced ours to her friends.
For our daughter, it was the best part of our whole trip and although we are not in the habit of letting her go off on her own in a strange place, we knew she was safe and in good company.
A spicy Lucana salsiccia. black olives from nearby Ferrandina, hot pepper paste and things I never heard of.
All of their recommendations were delicious, as if they already knew our tastes and in the days and weeks after our return home, we continued to enjoy the delicacies of the Basilicata region.
Before we left, Michele gave me a special gift. It is an out-of-print book of proverbs in the dialect of my grandfather.
It was a gift from the heart, something that meant a lot to him. I suspect he knew that it would mean a lot to me, too. Maybe he knew that each time I read it, I would recall my grandfather’s voice and imagine the Matera our ancestors knew, the place we both love.
Thoughts of the cold begin to melt away and winter becomes a little bit easier to bear when I call to mind the warmth of Italy and its people. And now, as the first snowflakes of yet another storm start to fall, these are the thoughts that will pull me through.