by Marianne Fluehr

Marianne Fluehr is breathing a sigh of relief that winter is just about over.

Shhhh! Can you hear that? You may think it is the sound of March winds blowing, but no, it is the Delaware Valley’s collective sigh of relief that this winter soon will be just a bad memory, and any day now the crocuses and daffodils, meadowlarks and orioles will be busy about town. Back in the dark despair of the winter’s deep freeze I wondered what friends and family, co-workers, and even strangers did to keep from going stir crazy. And so, as I stood with the masses in check-out lines at grocery stores, I queried folks. I people-watched and emailed friends and family, and this is what we did (in no particular order.)

Baked cookies. Skated on the pond. Made snow angels and built snow forts with kids. Slipped on the ice and broke wrist. Renewed an old friendship. Had game nights with the family. Snuggled in front of the fireplace. Had a run-in with neighbor over parking spot. Had tea with neighbor. Made a new friend. Twittered, Face-booked and surfed the web way too much. Vowed to curtail online activity. Watched the weather channel. Got hooked on a new TV series. Watched the weather again and again. Threatened to get rid of TV. Cried when school announced another snow day. Cried for joy when it was only a two-hour delay.

Just in case you miss winter, here is a photo Marianne Fluehr of Wyndmoor took in January of a pedestrian finding solitude on Forbidden Drive after a serious snowfall.

Walked to the local tavern. A lot. Tried new wines. Cleaned the basement. Rearranged furniture. Painted the bedroom; purple. Cleaned out closets. Cleaned out drawers, cupboards and cabinets. Every single one. Converted garage to man-cave. Went sledding. Went skiing. Had snow ball fights. Played board games. Played cards. Experimented with new recipes. Got grumpy: picked fights: made up. Started a wine tasting group. Made love. Made babies. Shoveled driveway, shoveled neighbor’s. Gained weight. Went to a Valentine’s party, cried from laughing so hard. Took snow days off from work. Stayed in bed all day; alone. Chaperoned a marathon school fundraiser. Went golfing — indoors. Took an evening class. Waited in long lines at Jack Frost. Helped an elderly neighbor with shoveling and grocery shopping. Snow-tubed down the Art Museum steps. Watched eagle soaring over the river.

Marianne cannot wait until the daffodils are back in town, not to mention the crocuses, meadowlarks, orioles, etc. replacing the snow, ice, slush and sprained backs and necks.

Went to Florida. Had fun in Florida. Tried to fly home. Got delayed, got rerouted, got really frustrated. Felt incredibly lucky despite the hassle. Went to Florida. Froze butt off in Florida. Ate Girl Scout cookies. Ate too many Girl Scout cookies. Quilted, knitted, and crocheted. Threw back out while shoveling. Job searched. Joined a gym. Power-walked the mall. Cross-country skied the neighborhood. Jogged on Kelly Drive. Fell in love with the beauty of the Schuylkill in winter. Learned to fence. Learned to Zumba dance. Learned to belly dance. Took yoga classes. Bought Pilates tapes. Lost weight. Adopted a pet. Volunteered at a soup kitchen. Walked Forbidden Drive after fresh snowfalls. Stayed inside too much, went a bit mad, but saved a lot of money.

Dreamed of the Philadelphia Flower Show. Dreamed of warm days, canoeing on the Delaware, and trips to the shore. Read a lot. Cursed the gods. Felt sorry for self. Felt sorry for everyone else, too. Took up oil painting. Sun-bathed in parka. Snapped snowtographs and sent them to the news channels. Fired up kiln again after five years. Made pine cone bird feeders and did some serious squirrel watching. Planned a garden. Planted seedlings. Kept a journal. Wrote silly columns for local publications. Somehow survived. Thanked the heavens for how blessed we are. Decided to keep list for next year. Just in case.

Marianne Fluehr is a freelance writer and photographer who lives with her family in Wyndmoor and manages to cram a lifetime into one winter. She is a guest columnist for the Bucks County Herald and also does freelance marketing and business writing. In 2009 her photography was exhibited at the Tinicum Arts Festival, The Stover Mill Gallery in Erwinna, PA, and the Schuylkill River Heritage Area Juried Art Show.