When We are Kale
The answer is: just wait.
Last week we had a winter storm in Portland that caused about 11 inches of snow to fall in less than 12 hours.
Needless to say, this is more snow than we are used to. (Fact: this is more snow than PDXites have seen since 1940-something.)
There’s something, shall we say, grounding about snow in Portland.
Because there’s no infrastructure or snowplows, most people just sort of hunker down with a “this too shall pass” attitude. This isn’t Colorado, that’s for sure. Kids stay home, doctors call to cancel appointments, moms and dads work remote (if they aren’t doing so already), and we all stay nestled in our isolated icicle-dripped kingdoms of powdered sugar dreams–only leaving to cross-country ski to the local grocery store or don snow pants and fuzzy mittens to get an oat milk latte at the neighborhood coffee shop.
When the snow starts melting, people try to slush, trudge, and slide into a semblance of their pre-snow life, but the message from the Gods of Weather is pretty clear: “You answer to OUR timeline, not the other way around.”
In order to deal with the giant snow blockades keeping us from normal life we simply have to….wait for it to melt.
In general, this sort of “no choice but to pause” respite is nice. I’m a homebody who has to ramp up for extrovert activities that I WANT to do beyond my front door, so I usually consider it a win when given an excuse to stay in soft pants and not deal with adult responsibilities.
But lately, I’ve been feeling a bit…stuck.
I haven’t been writing my ANNIEGRAM (a thing that I love) because I got a “real” job (a thing that I’d like to keep): a 9-5 ball-buster that I am good at and find fascinating and challenging but seems to drain every last remaining drop of life-force energy out of me, every day.
Since August all I’ve mostly done is eat, sleep, repeat–with all my free time going to the never-ending house project hellscape, the occasional hang with a friend, and a holiday vacation of emergency rooms and fast-food dining.
To say I’m tired would be an understatement.
And yet there’s a part of me that remembers winters of vitality and productivity, and I feel like I’m doing something wrong.
The other day my acupuncturist told me: it’s not normal to expect to thrive and go-go-go in winter.
Winter is resting time, he said. Winter is death and waiting, and everything going dormant underground to take a breath until spring and warmth comes back.
To which I replied:
All joking aside, he had a point.
I mean, there was obviously a REASON I was in his offices, always on the verge of tears and brittle in both skin and nails and body and absolutely unable to bring heat to my hands and feet or provide a pulse that would make him NOT wear a look of concern on his face. (Him: “Your pulse is…really, really weak.” Me: “That’s surprising, seeing as how my personality is so strong.”)
The truth is, there are so many things we can “do” to have balance, peace, vitality, energy, and more. But sometimes we’re just exhausting ourself with the doing, or the anxiety about the doing, or the feeling like we need to be more doing—until even handling our mental and physical health becomes a hamster wheel that we’re not running fast enough on.
And I want to get off.
Last week when the snow was starting to melt, I looked out into my garden and saw one lone stalk of over-wintered kale.
Kale wasn’t buried deep as death itself. Kale wasn’t a shuttered seed blocked from the light. Kale was still showing up.
But Kale was also waiting, just waiting. Slowly thawing underneath the weight and chill of 11 inches of snow, gently reaching its arms toward the sun.
Maybe I’m more like kale than a seed—not able to take complete rest and bury myself deep (a job’s a job, after all), but trying to find a little bit more space and rest in the steady art of just staying as I am…for now.
Whether you’re a wintering kale topped with feet of snow or a seed lying dormant in the ground, I hope you can have patience with yourself today.
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THREE GOOD THINGS
I’ve been following this account on Instagram and got her cookbook recently at Target (30% off, babay!)—her recipes are really simple and beautiful and I mean cmon she has a recipe for breakfast cookies, so you KNOW I was sold.
This is a late-love, but have you seen Ke Huy Quan’s acceptance speech at the Golden Globes? It’s so pure, it made me cry. (I mean, most things make me cry BUT STILL).
Y’all I am playing a SHOW IN A COUPLE WEEKS! WITH REALLY COOL PEOPLE! PLEASE TELL YOUR PORTLAND FRIENDS! PORTLANDERS, MARK YOUR CALENDARS! CAN YOU TELL I’M EXCITED BY THE ALL CAPS??
When I was growing up in snow country, snow was always a wondrous thing, for about five minutes, as I stared out the window at it from the comfort of our living room. But inevitably it mutated into the road-salt slushy, soot-covered, ice-hiding amalgam that clung to the ground like a dying vampire till about the end of March, and sometimes into April. So I escaped the snowy tundra and, ever since, have basked each winter in the balmy cool of Southern California. The mountains are wondrously snow covered, especially this year. And the snow is just the right distance away. I love to see it through my car window as I cruise the dry freeway.
BTW what does your job entail?