It has been a long winter. I'm always surprised how deeply the seasons influence my activities. I have a warm hat, scarf, gloves and coat and some rugged boots. There is no reason why I can't be taking long winter walks in the woods. But I don't. I watch the season from behind steamy windows.

From my desk, I admire the beauty of the snow and ice and appreciate the time to create and dream and learn. I make plans for the long days and stockpile books I want to read and ideas I want to pursue. I imagine that when the ground thaws and the trees burst into flower, I will implement all of my new ideas with clarity and ease and that this season of reflection will inspire a metamorphosis.

The first few storms are a welcome adventure. The periodic days of canceled school and afternoon tea and cocoa with the kids feel like a gift. There is the opportunity for afternoon sledding and snowman creation and freezing ice lanterns to illuminate with votive candles. Everything is beautiful and snug for a while.

Then suddenly, I am lonely for the chatter of my neighbors on the street. I am impatient with my itchy coat and the unremitting gray. In the right index finger of my favorite pair of gloves, I have worn and mended a hole three times. We've tracked dustpans of sand and salt into the front door. My dog refuses to take a walk. I've been quiet and have thought long enough to realize that I will emerge in the spring with even more questions, and the more I learn and experience, the more I realize I will never understand.

It is at this time of year that I begin to long for spring. I'll force some branches into early flower and watch the hyacinth bulbs on my kitchen counter sprout and shoot waxy white roots into their watery vases and then grow tall and blossom into fragrant bloom. My desire for a thaw and the little golden leaf buds that will dazzle us all in a few weeks is less about weariness of winter than it is about the reminder that life keeps moving forward.

This season will not last forever, nor will the next. We'll celebrate the moments that we have and will continue to strive and grow. The awkward growing-up moments that my children have been experiencing this season will pass and they will be ready for the next challenges.

These wintery mornings, with their biting wind and the milky coffee that warms my hands through the mug, are not forever. Nothing is. I have to believe that what we make of these days matters, though.

Krista Richards Mann is a Westport writer, and her "Well Intended" column appears every other Friday. She can be reached at: