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Winter’s illusive dreams (01/20/2008)
By Janet Lewis Burns
Today we older adults can relive bygone winters by delighting in watching the children, as they gleefully roughhouse and sled through the byways of snow. "If only I could go back just one more time, just one more adventure lived in a child's magic, white world!"

Though winter can seem like isolation, too dark and bone chilling, it can also be an opportune time to unwind, spend more time reflecting, to address a health concern, to catch up on reading and correspondence, and to take a personal inventory. Also, for many, long winter months are ideal for spending quality time with special people - grandchildren, elderly friends and family, and especially with your spouse.

Just as a young adult fresh out of college is anxious for the adventure of a new career or an opportunity out in the greater world, so too those 55-65-year- olds, no longer considered the "old duffers," are often seeking. Many nearing their senior years leave business positions that have become stale and tedious. They may feel bored and are no longer challenged in their present occupations. Restlessness may foster new relationships and different territories.

May I tell you about a recent encounter of mine? I can't say what drew me to her blazing, winter hearth. The visit won't be easily forgotten. When I stepped into her cozy home, the scent, feel, sound, and appearance of her character came alive in my presence.

Graciously and with congenial ease she filled a pansy flowered teapot from a whistling teakettle retrieved from the kitchen woodstove. As the aromatic tea steeped she reached out her pale, folded hands and voiced her pleasure in my return.

Faintly, a scratchy strain of Beethoven's "Moonlight Sonata", piano in C-Sharp Minor, drifted between our well-chosen exchanges. We sipped the rich, black Earl Gray from bone china teacups of different designs, as is the custom of old acquaintances chatting over a steaming brew, my cup a delicate green with coral roses and hers ebony with a Japanese design and a geisha.

It was déjà vu from my childhood, her blue flowered wallpaper, the tapestry, English parlor chairs, and that winged, fat-cheeked cherub, along with black and white family pictures, in their ornate, antediluvian frames. ("Antediluvian." The word came to me from out of nowhere, as archaic words often do.)

Her disarming demeanor captivated my full attention just as it had in my wayward youth. She spoke of outlived hardships in a subdued voice, relating her past as if telling a fairytale. Her four-room home was captivating with a Victorian flair and attention paid to nostalgic detail, shelves and furniture adorned with crocheted doilies, angels, fairies, and tea things (Each of which has a story behind it.)

Though more poised, she states that I look a bit weary to her, likely from discontent from putting my writing on hold while raising rambunctious children, and long, stress-filled years bending my back and my mind over tedious bookwork (now behind me).

She began singing an Irish song in a mellifluous lilt, her silver curls falling over her porcelain smooth cheeks like petals from a pink rose.

"Jan," she said, her glance growing distant and dim, "your time has not yet come. Go back to your life. Go back and enjoy."

She vanished through my closet door and then I woke up. An enchanting dream, it seems, comes very seldom. It's the perfect kind of dream for the dead of winter!

Just as a hint of the rising sun arouses shadows through your space, you turn over in a warm, cradling bed, cuddling deep within your nest, but try as you may you cannot drift back to the dream as it was. The sentiment and euphoria escape in awakening. May all of your winter dreams be majestic, stirring within you a youthful spirit that is never completely lost to those who believe. ?

Janet Burns has lived in Lewiston all her life. She can be reached at patandjanburns@embarqmail.com.



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