The Winter Of Her Life

The ancient calico with the dusty grey feet slept atop what can only be described as a heap of forgotten junk.  The reek of motor oil and the stale warehouse air burned my eyes to tears, yet the wizened creature was the center point of my blurred vision and my heart skipped a beat as it always does at the sight of a cat.

The admonishments of the wiry woman with the smoker’s cough about the folly of leaving old gasoline in a lawnmower faded to a distant rumble on the razor’s edge of my cognitive horizon.  The crone of a calico had captivated me “body and soul.”

“She’s gorgeous”, I said, my voice thickened with the emotion that comes from viewing the truly beautiful.

The sinewy woman, interrupted mid sentence about gasoline lasting somewhere around two weeks, nevertheless good-naturedly picked up the conversation.

“The poor thing,” the woman replied.

“We fear she is in the winter of her life.  We almost lost her last year.  Heat stroke.  She lives right here in the workshop.”

Lightly, I pet and stroked the sagacious head of the fading animal as I took in what the woman said.  Emaciated and desiccated now, it was clear that in her prime she had been a queen among cats.  Echoes of her past royalty sparkled in her eyes.

“How old is she”, I asked.

“Oh at least 15 years”, coughed the woman.

“And her name?”


And that was it. My encounter with Pumpkin should have remained right there in the warehouse, but as my dad helped me load my lawnmower into the truck, Pumpkin and the woman’s words haunted me.

What does it mean to be in “the winter of one’s life?”

There is the obvious meaning, the one that makes my heart bleed for the noble Pumpkin.  It means that one is close to dying, close to exhausting the seasons of life and approaches the grave with a reluctant step.

But there is another meaning I think.  Our lives have many seasons and we will endure many winters.  Each major change in life before the verdant spring of a new beginning is a winter to be weathered.

As I bring my career as an educator to a close and embark on my nascent career as junior web developer, I am in the winter of my life as a math teacher.

This vision brings on a depression. One that I have been mired in recently if I am being honest.

Winter is ice and trees dying, the homeless freezing, the birds leaving.

Winter is to shiver alone in search of… what?  Heat? Warmth? Love? Spring?


That is what codeup has come to represent for me now as I shiver through this winter of my life.

I have not been coding lately.  I ran into a wall where everything seemed to bleed into everything else and I could no longer distinguish between python and javaScript, jQuery and CSS.  I have not been able to think of anything new to build to practice what little skills I have and I worry that I am forgetting much of what I have fought so hard to learn on my own.

Disappointed, frustrated, over-loaded with information and frankly scared, I pulled away for a time, fearing that perhaps I don’t have what it takes to learn web development.

Then I met Pumpkin and suddenly it clicked.  I have been driving forward so hard without stopping for reflection.  I have not adequately stopped to acknowledge the passing of this season.  No wonder the depression, no wonder the confusion, no wonder the mental block!

I am leaving the classroom.  I am leaving my students, some of whom told me as recently as yesterday that I am the reason they now like math.  I am leaving stability, predictability, conventionality for a great big question mark.  No wonder I have not been able to code.

Since recognizing all of this with Pumpkin’s aid, I cannot say that my most recent bout of depression has lifted.

But I can say that I am programming again:)

And if you have been keeping track dear reader, it is now 10 days until Codeup’s FullStack bootcamp begins.

10 days until Spring.


2 thoughts on “The Winter Of Her Life

  1. I missed you dear Sounja and I am so glad you are back. Thank you, dear Pumpkin!

    Honour yourself by accepting the honour of your students. Teachers make such a difference to so many lives, and we all never fully really appreciated.

    i just saw somewhere else a new blog that i hadnt seen before “i hate mathematics. specifically statistics”. i didn’t click on it. i’m too busy dealing with my own issues,
    trying to keep blogging, trying to be the best mother i can to my daughter – and anyhow, i used to love maths, when i was in high school.

    how wonderful that you have made a difference to so many kids, who will never have to agonise on the world wide web about why they hate mathematics.

    your new life and career will flow like magic, we all hit stumbling blocks on the way to learning.

    but to fully enter it you must make peace with and honour your old life.

    whoops, sounding like a sermon here, i’d better stop typing. 🙂

    and dont leave us too long before the next blog post, okay?

    btw i am trying to get a pic for you of a place way out of town, along the road there is a big sign that says “ctr, alt, delete” and everytime i see it i think of you and smile. 🙂


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