The pleasures of the winter table

If you live in a city where the temperature drops to -20 celcius, perhaps you are the type to stay in bed, cancel your planned outing to the St. Lawrence Antique Market, and re-schedule your trip to the Maharaja exhibit at the AGO for the following week, weather permitting. It's the kind of weekend that finds you sipping on a Manhattan while watching the Golden Globes, keeping warm under a blanket. You turn up the heat just a little. You make good use of your slippers. You enjoy a leisurely breakfast and an extra cup of coffee because it just makes good sense to do so.

January is a depressing month, so they say, and I'm apt to agree. But instead of filling my weekend with errands and stuffing it to the bits with various to-do lists, I enjoyed a leisurely one filled with old-fashioned fun: knitting, reading, tea-drinking, baking, and making a terrific, simple lentil soup recipe that is, no joke, ridiculously cheap to cook up. Even if you use organic lentils as I do.

I have ideas, readers, really I do. I've been cooking up a storm. And enjoying.

Those stories will come.

Last evening, after a long working day, I walked west down Bloor until I reached St. George. Around the corner came a dapper young man and he whisked me off to a lovely little place called Bar Mercurio where everyone is in good spirits, always, and a woman with crazy blonde curly hair mixes up a mean espresso martini, slightly sweet, exceptionally creamy and absolutely divine. Your friend and this lovely woman engage in casual banter. "Done any painting recently?" he asks her, and she says, "No, no." "Just re-use your work from this year for next year's show and call it something else." She laughs and murmurs, "Yes, I'll call it 'I Changed My Mind'," as she takes a sip of espresso from her tiny white cup, and we all smile together.

The marble counter top and wall of wine are all Italian, and the low light soothes your broken mind. I sat there and drank my cocktail -- perhaps too quickly, as it disappeared all too fast for my liking -- and experienced the moment. I am trying to experience the moments, dear reades, as January is almost over already and soon it will be February and then it will be March. Spring! What will that feel like? Sometimes I catch myself daydreaming and need to move a few steps back.

Soon it will be over, dear readers. I don't want this season to pass me by; I want to celebrate its quirks. I want to make a big pot of soup on Sundays and fantasize about spring pea soup with mint. I want to decide, rather impulsively, to bake up a batch of miniature buckwheat cookies with cocao nibs on a Saturday night before heading out to catch a film, the first that I've seen at the theatre in almost a year. I want to sit down for a while doing nothing, and find myself perfectly happy doing so, and I want to bury myself under my duvet for another hour before getting up to grab a few groceries. I want to listen to Chet Baker and chop onions perfectly. The things we think about when we're left alone for too long, non? What I'm saying, I suppose, is that there's beauty in all seasons. For too long I've overlooked winter's as hers is more difficult to see and to love, I think, for someone who has always adored the summertime. I'm slowly coming around. It has taken me twenty-five years, but I'm just about there.

Eventually spring will come. Eventually, I'll write the things I've been wanting to write and share them with you. Until then I'll be here, slurping soup, and taking life as it comes because even under the snow, the slush, the salt, there's amazing things preparing to emerge.

I prefer winter and fall, when you feel the bone structure of the landscape - the loneliness of it, the dead feeling of winter.  Something waits beneath it, the whole story doesn't show.  -Andrew Wyeth

There is a privacy about it which no other season gives you.... In spring, summer and fall people sort of have an open season on each other; only in the winter, in the country, can you have longer, quiet stretches when you can savor belonging to yourself. 
-Ruth Stout


Samantha Angela @ Bikini Birthday said...

I whole-heartedly believe that January in Toronto has to be the most depressing time in one's life. I'm quite positive that the sun doesn't shine for the whole month.
The month of January was enough to make me loathe Toronto.

Andrea Paterson said...

Lovely post. January in Vancouver is dismal in similar ways. We don't have the cold but in January it's already been raining for three straight months and there are no holidays to look forward to between Christmas and Easter (we don't get Family Day in February like the rest of the country. I have no idea why). January is dark (the sun is basically down at 4:30), wet, chilly, and totally blah. But I've done more reading in the past month than I have for much of the rest of the year and there's always skiing to keep a person happy. The good things are there, just hard to see sometimes.

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