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Dec 10, 2006
Kimmy Sophia Brown
As soon as the heat gets turned on for the winter it starts. I feel it in my feet and hands. Dryness. Cracked skin. Parched lips. Parched nose. Dry heat and the descent into madness. I go to the drugstore. I get lotions. Chapstick. Vaseline. WD40. Anything that can help to re-hydrate me and the family. Jojoba. Aloe vera. Vitamin E. Whale blubber.

I ponder the native peoples of the earth. What do Inhuits do? People who live on the ice? I imagine swimming in an Olympic class pool of Lubriderm - kind of like, "Calgon, take me away."

Despite the ills of home heating systems, winter does have its unique charms. I remember that when I lived in Minnesota for a few years I found winter to be very depressing - very few trees and lots of prairie. Endless white ground reflecting endless white sky. Everybody walking around in their colorful parkas looking like a bunch of M&Ms thrown between two gray trash can lids.

I live in central Virginia where the winters aren't very dramatic. Things aren't snow covered most of the time so the ground still looks kind of green. Going sledding is a rip off most of the time. The kids go to the top of a hill and throw themselves onto the slush and get stuck in the mud. The funny thing about Virginia winters is the stuff that doesn't really go away even though it's supposed to be cold outside. For example, my daughter and I hiked into the woods last year to cut down a Christmas tree (don't tell anybody). We looked both ways and sawed real quick and stuffed it in the back of our van. When I got home I found a tick crawling on my arm. What the heck is a tick doing awake in December? And two winters ago, Gracie came in contact with winter poison ivy and looked like she'd been blow torched.

On New Year's Day last year I had a white dish towel spread out on the kitchen table. A ladybug that had been lurking who knows where landed on it and began to walk. I wondered where it was going. I worried that it might be hungry so I poured a dot of honey on the table and showed it to the ladybug. It got stuck.

Then feeling worried about its stuck feet I poured a little water on the table. I was hoping to wash its little feet and give it a drink at the same time. It didn't move for a long time. It seemed my attempts to express kindness had crippled and drowned it. But then after a little while, it began to walk again. Maybe it had a ladybug near death experience. The faces of its lady bug ancestors appeared to it and it flew through a tunnel. The God ladybug told it to go back, it wasn't its time. When it "came to" I offered it my finger and it walked up and down some more and then finally flew off somewhere. But I was really proud that I hadn't killed it. I wondered about its cosmic destiny. Later I looked in the laundry room off my kitchen and there were about 80 ladybugs crawling up and down the windows. I'm not even going to try to contemplate that conundrum.

Bugs still alive are really typical of the Virginia winter. I saw a wasp crawling around the in January once and I thought, don't you guys ever give up? But I digress. What do insects know of being chapped? Bring on the Vitamin E. But wait! My husband told me he just read that too much Vitamin E can kill you. Can anyone get chapped to death? Maybe the ladybug had a message.

[written on January 6, 2005]

Kimmy Sophia Brown has loved humor and music and freedom for as long as she can remember.She is especially passionate about the environment and caring for animals.

She writes the column "From the Back Porch" as well as reviews of music in her column "MusicViews". Her goal in her music reviews is to introduce music she loves to people who may not have heard that particular artist or CD. For information about how to submit a CD for review, click here.

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