Winter Warmth

As I write this, it is around 6:00 A.M., February 1.

Here in the Midwest, we are bracing for a snow storm – they say Northwest Indiana may get up to 20 inches of snow, along with drifting, slipping, sliding, shivering, moaning . . . bitching.

Flashback to childhood: Snow was magnificent back then–a playground of white in a fairyland world. The first snow was always the best snow because it reminded me of how there would soon be sledding, snowmen, and with luck, no school.

My best friend and I used to play a game. Upon having spotted the first snowflake of the year, one would phone the other to squeal “Happy first snow!” The friend who telephoned the other friend first was the winner. THE WINNER–that’s the key. Snow was all about winning back then.

In youth, the miracle of precipitation is seen as a victory of nature.

Somewhere along the way, I lost those feelings.

Maybe it was learning to drive that did it. All it takes is one good skid to remind oneself just how threatening snow can be.

Or maybe it was aging and listening to people talk about how each winter gets harder and more painful to bear.

Pain does indeed have a lot to do with it. This makes me wonder if perhaps my dread of winter came from my not realizing to what extent gluten-intolerance was messing with my body. Part of this was witnessed by my having developed Raynaud’s Syndrome which, among other things, keeps my hands and feet almost-always cold. For me, it became worse each year.

I also stopped absorbing nutrients and lost Vitamin D. This caused weakness and pain, and it caused my arms and legs to go numb in the winter.

That was then.

Last month, Howard and I visited Starved Rock, Illinois, where countless Bald Eagles spend winter every year. It was snowy, icy, and colder than cold, yet I was able to bird watch outside for as long as I wished.

To aid my Raynaud’s, I wore two pairs of socks and three pairs of gloves, much of it wool (hand knit by yours truly). Remember the little brother from the movie A Christmas Story? That was me, bundled in layers as I toddled into the snow.

Starved Rock was beautiful. The Bald Eagles gave us goosebumps . . . and the snow? It was splendid. It filled me with the same delight I knew as a child. Being there reminded me of how, as an adult and before I was diagnosed, I was a “starved rock” of sorts – void of mobility and hungry for things I’d yet to understand.

It has taken me a while, but I’ve grown to realize that my having been diagnosed with gluten-intolerance was a gift of nourishment, not a curse of deprivation.

It has now been over a year since my diagnosis and the beginning of my gluten-free (and now, corn free) diet.

My body absorbs nutrients.

I am not in pain the way I once was.

I feel younger than I have in many years, and . . .

I am knitting again.

With knitting added to the scene (another love I left behind in childhood), life turns into a landscape where cold weather draws winter even closer to my heart. Nothing hugs winter better than wool.

Winter has become a playground again.

As I listen to today’s storm warning, I know all is well. When the storm hits, I’ll pray everyone stays safe, then I’ll knit in the knowing that what I hold keeps me warm inside as well as out.

Bring on the snow. These years have become my formative years, and I look forward to the flurry.

Love to all,

Find and write to Lee on Ravelry:
User Name: LeeBernstein
Visit the Knitting Is Gluten Free Forum on Ravelry — GREAT discussions here, including loving support for people with food intolerances . . . and tons of recipes.
Facebook: Fans of Knitting is Gluten Free
Twitter: Lee_A_Bernstein
LinkedIn: Lee Bernstein

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20 Responses to Winter Warmth

  1. Kim says:

    I hope the storm is not too bad for you.

  2. Jess Kahele says:

    Glad to hear how much better you’re feeling! The more I have to eat a special diet, the more I enjoy other luxuries (besides food), especially my hand knits. They are priceless and I feel priceless wearing them. 🙂

  3. Diane says:

    Wonderful post, Lee!
    Glad to hear your health is improving. Also, Starved Rock sounds like a great place to visit! May have to try that.
    Take care! Love, Diane

    • Diane, you’d really love it there . . . and in the summer, there are, would you believe, waterfalls! We went last summer, and it was beautiful.

      It is only about 1.5 hours from here. I cannot believe I didn’t visit there until last year.

  4. Pat1203 says:

    I’m so glad you are feeling better since you’ve been gluten free.

    Good luck with the storm. All the schools in the southern part of the state of WI are closed tomorrow. It’s just downright nasty. Stay safe.


  5. kathie says:

    Great post Lee. Glad to hear you are feeling better. Good luck with the storm. Makes me happy I live in the deep south (near Atlanta) where only 5″ of snow will cause havoc and everything shuts down for a week.

    As I write this I am wearing a sweater I bought recently at an outlet mall. I could never buy the yarn for $10, which is all I paid for the sweater. But you are right, it just isn’t the same. I don’t get the internal warmth I get from wearing something made by hands. Like most knitters I suffer from the very famous “I am knitting this for someone else!” I am trying to be selfish and “give” myself some more hand knits.

    • Thank you for the lovely post, Kathie.

      You’re so right to try to knit more things for yourself. I’m guilty of the same. After I finish my current project — a hat for a friend’s mother with a birthday all too soon, I think I’ll cast on something for me and them make sure I work on it for at least 15 minutes a day. If I spend more time on knitting for others, fine, but at least I’ll know I have something for me on the way, too. Thanks for the inspiration.

  6. Debbie says:

    As you know Lee, I am not a knitter, but absolutely love to see all the beautiful projects that you have done. And you’re so sweet to do for others. I must say that I believe that you missed another calling. You are an excellent writer and I love to read all of your blogs. Always very interesting……keep them coming.

    • Debbie,

      Thank you for your kind words — coming from you, they mean so much. It is so much fun to hear of people who visit who do not knit and who also are not gluten-intolerant.

      That said . . . when might I teach you to knit? : ) I think you are a knitter at heart.

      Love ya.

  7. Kathleen says:

    What a beautiful essay, Lee! It’s moments like that that make the gluten-free diet easier for me: realizing all that I was missing before I was diagnosed, and all that lies ahead now that I have been. Thank you for the reminder.

  8. Thank you for your beautiful words, Kathleen. I get just a kick out of your blog posts:

    I hope you’re feeling good and that winter is treating you well. Sending a hug.

  9. Paula says:

    Beautifully written. I am so glad you have found joy in winter.

  10. Lisa says:

    Hey! I was wandering the webs trying to figure out a good place to knit in chicago (ideally a spot with ample couches that serves beer) and came across your blog. Do you live here? I had a quick look through your fabulous blog and am super impressed with your knitting abilities. I’m still on scarves but someday hope to tackle a sock or two. Hope you’re fairing alright in this strange weather we’re having and if you’re ever up for hanging out to knit, just let me know!

    • I’m in the Chicago area, in Northwest Indiana. Good luck with the beer and knitting, and remember: Friends don’t let friends knit drunk. LOL — oh my, stories I could tell you friends, knitting, wine . . . and ultimately, frogging.

      Let me know if you find a place . . . and if you don’t, hey, maybe that’s a business waiting for you to open it!

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