Happy March!☘️

I heard birds chirping this morning. For many readers out there, you’re wondering why this deserves attention. In my part of the frigid northeast, we haven’t regularly heard birds at dawn in a couple of months. It was a joy to hear the tweets, reminding me that Spring really will arrive…eventually.

A short while later, the sun shown brightly through the window blinds in the kitchen. Again, no big news for many folks, but for those of us who have been dwelling in a long, miserable stretch of gray gloom, the sun was extraordinary…a true gift.

Walking through a local park, sparkles reflected off of the fresh snow. I’m still mesmerized by the ice crystals phenomenon…me preferring to skip the science and just enjoy sheer brilliance twinkling in the 12-degree air. Countless photographers have far more riveting shots of snow sparkles, but here is my lame cell phone pic:While snow and cold were part of my March 1st, sun and birds also made an appearance and it was glorious. It felt fresh. Happy March!

“The snow is sparkling like a million little suns.”

Lama Willa Miller

 

Determined to Enjoy the Breathtaking Beauty of Nature, Despite the Profound Pain of Life


I had an early morning errand to run. The dawn hours were filled with thick fog. As I drove back down the street toward my house, the sun began to rise, peeking through the few remaining leaves on the trees lining the country road. I slowed down to fully embrace the rare merger of gentle sunlight, autumn-rich colors, dewy leaves and the five feet of mist hovering over the green grass.

I stopped the car at the end of the driveway, got out and examined a drop of water hanging from the very tip of a pumpkin-orange leaf. Warm sun touched my face and I looked up to see November clouds vying for sky space, slowly screening the sun. Glancing back at the tree in front of me, I was captivated by the leaf that although had just seemed to bloom, was already retiring to the barren ground. Looking around, my eyes were suddenly too small, my vision too narrow to properly absorb the exquisite beauty all around me. Sun peeked out again, brilliantly illuminating the fog across the landscape. I reached out my right hand, as if I could lay it on top of the thick mist. I smiled and breathed deep and thanked God and tilted my face up again toward the quickly greying sky. I was standing in seasonal change…pristine early morning…my description insufficient to adequately convey the magnificent canvas engulfing me.

As my breath deepened and my spirit appreciated, the moment was crushed as my mind wandered to my brother in law who was presently receiving a miserable cocktail of chemicals dripping into his blue vein. My peace was destroyed as I thought of his upcoming days, fighting the emotional turmoil that accompanies the physical suffering of chemotherapy. My eyes pierced through the fog, staring down at brown leaves, thinking of the woman I brought a meal to last night. She can’t eat, but would enjoy watching her family fill their bellies. Her disease robs her of truly living. My throat tightens as I think of how my courageous friend who lost her battle two summers ago would love this view.

The stunning scene still beckons my attention, but my memory transports me to a time when fall represented joyful anticipation for the future. The breaking out of fuzzy sweaters, Thanksgiving, the first snow, shopping for Christmas… As nature shed its old life, autumn somehow felt like a new beginning.

Thanksgiving will still arrive, along with the first snow. I’ll wear fuzzy sweaters and prepare for Christmas, but my mind and heart are more solemn than they were when I was 20. We grow up exclaiming we’ll never be cynical like our elders. Never become so weary that we fail to embrace life with zest, but the sadness can wear a person out. Abuse, murder, slander and harassment flourish out in society while in our personal spheres, we’ve hurt and we’ve watched our loved ones hurt. The pain steals away a bit of our wonderment.

The wind picks up and hits my face with cold. The sun is now fully concealed behind the ominous clouds that are somehow still beautiful in all their dark rage. I observe one tree on our land that is wholly stripped of leaves, bare branches ready to support the imminent snow. Six inches away, another tree is still hanging on to its leaves-many still green. The fullness and emptiness, co-existing so close to one another.

A few harsh rain drops pelt my cheek, but I refuse to get back in the car. I stand there defiant, emotion welling up in me, fighting to preserve the tranquility and lightness and warmth and sheer present-ness I had experienced only minutes earlier. What choice do we have? We must resolve to stay positive, to enjoy, to hug life. We must refocus again and again and again. We must fight to recover from the hard. Lest we too become hard.

So I concluded there is nothing better than to be happy and enjoy ourselves as long as we can. Ecclesiastes 3:12

Photo: Family5Power

Are You Tired of Wearing Boots Too?

With half the country experiencing the wintriest winter in years, I know I’m not alone when I say, “I’m tired of wearing boots!”

I admit that by early October, I look forward to putting on pretty scarves, cable-knit sweaters and cute boots. It’s fun! I can wear them… or not. This year, such apparel is a necessity. The three-inch “cute” high black boots have been shoved into the back of the closet because I need the Lands’ End thermal protection (not to mention, a bad ankle in high boots on snow and ice is bound to land me on America’s Funniest Videos when I hit the pavement).

The coat I usually wear twice a season for some outdoor winter event has become my every-day coat. When little kids are packed like sausages into their snow suits, they look adorable. When a grown woman with a little too much belly is zipped into a puffy coat, then locked into a seat belt…not so adorable!

Yesterday, my husband was traveling to Pennsylvania from our already-frigid home in New York, when he texted me this: Here in New York the sun actually came out for a short spell this week. While my car only registered a whopping 16 degrees F, I was driving on dry pavement for the first time in months! Sun and dry pavement? This was reason to celebrate! Just as I was taking in a deep breath of gratitude and feeling the warmth through the windshield, I was certain a meteor smashed into my vehicle. Yep, you guessed it – I hit a massive pot hole! Well, as the saying goes in the Northeast, we get two seasons: winter and road construction.

This is the kind of weather where:

  • Every morning your scratchy throat and stuffy nose makes you think you have a cold. You don’t. It’s just COLD.
  • You use a humidifier at night or age five years by morning.
  • You should be using all of those delicious body butters you received for Christmas, but stepping out of the shower, all you really want to do is tie up your wet hair and get into that thick bathrobe as fast as possible.
  • Your son’s hockey rink which is normally COLD is now 20 degrees COLDER.
  • Your husband not only loudly encourages everyone to “turn off the lights!” but now adds “lower the heat!!” while mumbling, “what will that gas bill look like next month?” 🙂
  • You feel like a caged animal having to be indoors all the time, but the thought of going outdoors makes you instead reach for a bag of chips and plop on the couch.
  • You feel less guilty watching hours of the Olympics on television.
  • Watching Home and Family (California) feels like viewing re-runs from July instead of a brand new show filmed just this morning!
  • You are certain you’re living inside the most beautiful glittery Christmas card you’ve ever seen when you look through the snow covered windows. White slivers gently falling to the already sparkling pristine ground are mesmerizing.
  • The beauty out your windows is breathtaking. Leaving the house without a scarf on will take your breath away.