I channel my inner Maggie O'Connell, get dressed, and do life. The toughness of winter weather reminds me good things about myself. I'm strong and resilient. I can go out and shovel or blow a foot of snow off the driveway or stack a half-cord of firewood, one woman against the elements, me all muscle and determination and snot, in a blinding snowstorm, while inside I'm simmering hearty stew and baking fresh bread for dinner. I'm reaching near-native levels of expertise at driving on roads ankle deep in fresh powder, even in my rear-wheel drive truck.
Outside, I notice the ache of my back, the feel of my breath, hot and steaming against a wool scarf wrapped up twice around my nose and mouth, and how the hat my mother knitted me when I was Bean's age flattens my hair out and covers my ears, leaving a line between dry and wet, right at the folded, cabled edges her needles wrought. My fingers ache and burn with cold, even double-layered in mittens over gloves, and they're stiff but they do the work well, maybe because of and not in spite of the stiffness.