The infernal Kansas wind nipping at my ankles as it tries in vain to remove my pants has turned bitter. It is cold. Very cold. It feels very artic, though there is not alabaster snow covering the scarlet of my car hood. Instead, there is just a bit of frost on a dirty windshield to deal with. The only real way winter signs her signature on this morning is the ankle biting cold. 

I've bundled up, adorned with a yellow and black coat — the color of beautiful summer wheat growing out of the dark earth that brings the thoughts of late summer to mind.

I mutter as my fingers, covered with an extra pair of socks since mittens and gloves had gone to the same place as lost socks on this morning, begin to freeze. At least that is what if feels like. 

As I scrape the windshield of a frost that offers very little resistance, I come to a realization. That this moment, this time, is filled with not only frustration but lots and lots of hope. That with each passing day, we put a season of craziness behind us as we look forward to longer dates with the sun.

the crazy season for my family concludes in January. And it really is nuts. The crazy season begins in August, heralded in its return each year by the birthday of my youngest sister. From that moment, life goes into overdrive. 

We celebrate, a good thing yes, but we celebrate — a lot. Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas are all on the calendar during this time — but there's more. There are somewhere around 14 birthdays to celebrate — if I am remembering them all and correctly — between August and January. That's a lot of cake or cupcakes, parties to plan and gifts to find.

That's a lot of joy to celebrate.

And through it all, there is fall and winter. A period with weekly trips to a pumpkin patch for my kiddos, football games and the last of garden harvests. Life does get packed very, very full during a time when being inside is a very attractive option.

All of this adds up to stress — that sneaky and well-known killer. He doesn't knock on the back door to see if it's unlocked before coming in, he just comes in. He doesn't silently walk through the house to find a victim and stifle them in the middle of the night.

He's even sneakier.

He hangs out in our minds, all of our minds. During this season of joy and crazy, our children feel it. They act out. It's during these time we see the biggest mood swings and loudest fits. It stands to reason. As the chill enters the Kansas air there is a tendency to not go outside and run.

Cabin fever comes for the little ones, and for some of us big ones, too. It can come quickly.

These are all the things that cross my mind as I finish scraping the windshield, preparing to jump into my now heated chariot for a short ride to work where I'll spend much of my day at a desk, typing. 

I'm glad this season will draw to a close soon — that the sun will begin to stay over Newton longer each day and green will begin to burst forth from the browns and dark earth. There will be new things to fill our time — but only one birthday between now and August to plan a big shingding for.

Make no mistake, the time will get filled. It always does. Just as the wind always blows across the plains, licking at our ankles and bare skin, the time will always get filled. It's natural. It's part of who we are.

— Chad Frey is managing editor of the Newton Kansan. He lives with his wife and three children in Newton and can be reached at cfrey@thekansan.com