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Posts Tagged ‘winter’

seasonsAdopt the pace of nature: her secret is patience. (Ralph Waldo Emerson)

“Are those flowers real?” friends ask when they see the pastel arrangement of out-of-season blooms on my table.

They aren’t. I bought the vase from a struggling-artist neighbor. The arrangement matched an oil painting created by my husband’s grandmother, although my subconscious made the decision, and let me know about it later. The fact that my black thumb couldn’t kill the blossoms, chose first.

The notion of forever warmth and sunshine—without effort—is appealing.

Sure, I realize utopia doesn’t exist, even in storybook land. Either the flying unicorn runs into some adventure or the bored preschooler falls asleep before his bedtime tale ends.

Now February, the elongated 28-day month, shows its power in Midwest America. This thin-blooded, needs-another-blanket individual, shivers. (My husband wears shorts until the thermometer dips below zero.)

I don’t sparkle in the sun the way snow on a bare tree does. The secret of nature is patience. No season, day, month, year, or life lasts forever. The darker moments carry disguised blessings. Without the difficult times in my life, I suspect I could take what I have for granted.

My purchased flowers are not real; it is okay to enjoy them, as artificial. In the meantime, I celebrate the fact that I have indoor heat, a warm coat, and opportunities to give to others. Opportunities I hope will warm the spirit of somebody else since mother nature’s timing, warm or cold, doesn’t budge.

Patience? I haven’t arrived on that perfect path yet. I still rely on artificial flowers as a reminder that their fresh counterparts will reappear. In their own time.

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winter through the screen (2)_LI

All I ever wanted was to reach out and touch another human being not just with my hands but with my heart. (Tahereh Mafi)

Snow. A four-letter word. Not in a vulgar, but in a testy sense. Nevertheless, I know I’m blessed as I feel and hear warm air rise from the furnace. My husband kept a thick, warm coat in the back seat of the car until we saw a homeless man who could use it. Socks next maybe. Some packaged food…

Inside the house I wheeze. Yet, I have the medications necessary to recover. Outside, who knows how long I would last?

A cardinal stops to snack at the birdfeeder. A squirrel gorges on the feed. I look at my belly and suspect I have more in common with the squirrel.

The snow melts and then promises to appear again. Need never melts completely. However, compassion isn’t a job; it’s a way of life. 

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Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans. (John Lennon)

Today. Finally. I’ll get a few errands completed. Even though old man winter is mocking the bright blue sky by plunging the temperature below ten degrees. My key opens the lock on the door of my 1997 Toyota on the second try.

The ignition responds. Unfortunately, the door doesn’t close—not because the seat belt is in the way. I pull the door shut and try to hold it sufficiently tight to lock, with the false hope that it will stay there. Oh, sure, the lock catches, but the door is not properly positioned—and I can’t get it unlocked again.

Great! I. Am. Stuck. Inside. This. Car. And Jay is at the auto repair shop now getting an oil change for his car. Naturally, my purse and phone are in the house. I am simply warming little green for a minute or two. My old car has decided it doesn’t want to go anywhere.

Now, if I can get the window to open… I press the buttons. The windows lower only on the passenger side. That means I get to climb over the gear shift, pray I don’t drop the keys out the window, and open the door from that side.

Hallelujah! I’m sprung. Little green Toyota remains iced, but at least I can call to see if Jay is still at our friend’s repair shop. Our friend suggests Jay make a simple repair with a spray; it does not work. Jay and I both drive back to the shop—not in our neighborhood. He follows, as my car-dian angel.

The warm drive allows the door to relax and behave as if nothing had ever been wrong with it. Ack! Ack! Triple ack. At least my-car-that-could-be-almost-classic-if-it-didn’t-resemble-a-demolition-derby-look-alike gets an oil change. And I learn to cover my key with the point of a pencil (graphite.) Graphite in the form of a pencil point or graphite spray helps to loosen the lock.

Of course, this cure only helps in models old enough to earn rust stains. My vehicle fits in that category. Little green is not old enough to remember carburetors, however.

My errands will wait for tomorrow. Maybe. Fate, the weather, Armageddon? Whatever tomorrow brings, I’m grateful not to be a four-foot eleven-inch ice cube.

iced-in

 

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The best way out is always through. (Robert Frost)

Three to four more inches of snow, that’s the current prediction for our area. I watch as the street disappears under the white. Mother Nature didn’t listen to the forecast. She adds a tad more. Fortunately, February, 2014 will belong to the past in less than two weeks. March doesn’t end winter, but it promises spring by introducing buds and blossoms.

Complaining doesn’t help. Besides, when I think about it, the people in California are facing a fourteen-month drought. That would be far worse. Until the thaw arrives I have plenty of writing to do. However, housework pleads to be done first. Besides, mindless work helps me to focus sometimes. I think about what I can change and what would be a waste of time and energy. Ordinary household chores open my mind to think about other people, too. One friend was admitted to the hospital via the emergency room today. I imagine her whole and well as I scrub the kitchen floor. Later I get a chance to chat with her via Facebook. When she responds with LOL, I feel better and hope she does, too.

Thinking about someone else—something else, anything else, always helps. The thought strikes me: humor makes a good companion. I still laugh when I see offers for free snowman material on a sign in a yard buried with white, or the picture of the multi-stabbed snowman with the caption: “Die, winter, die.” True, I am a gentle woman. It’s the out-of-the-box thinking that makes me smile.

Yes, the best way out of any situation is through it. However, without a sense of humor, the snow shovel becomes twice as heavy. An hour feels like a week. And I feel cold, but don’t recognize sun.

what did you do with the grass

 

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Life is like a landscape. You live in the midst of it, but can describe it only from the vantage point of distance. (Charles A. Lindbergh, aviator and author, 1902-1974) 

Another inch of snow falls on top of the ice we already have. I can walk across it in boots without making more than a crunchy dent in the surface. Winter has moved in to stay—at least it feels that way. I remember grass as a distant memory. My ’97 Toyota is iced to the curb with almost a car length of solidified snow behind it. I have a medical appointment this week. Mother Nature does not care whether I make it out of my petrified spot or not. At least, I am grateful to be retired. When I worked in a hospital pharmacy, business didn’t close. If this were a few years ago I would need to take a bus in sub-zero temperatures at six o’clock in the morning. Okay, imagining that landscape possibility is one heck of a lot worse.

Yesterday I tried to slam the snow shovel into the offending space behind my car. I could have been attempting to break a prison wall with a marshmallow stick. Nothing. When I went back inside the house to get a spade, the look on my husband’s face irritated me, mostly because I knew he was right. My back already had a few twinges in it, and I sometimes walk with the stiffness of an old metal toy soldier left in the rain too long. So far I have been managing a back problem with heat and exercise. Pushing it may not be a good idea.

So, Terry, consider what you have been able to do: take care of your husband as he recovers from minor surgery; cook some wonderful meals for him; thoroughly clean-out the refrigerator; re-vamp three stories published in 1998 in a local magazine known as “Dream Weaver,” and then have them accepted by http://www.pikerpress.com/. The pending dates are listed on the web page. At least one of those stories you were able to illustrate. So far this has been a good year for poetry and short-story publishing. You remain free of the burden of wealth, but being internationally unknown has its benefits.

How the whole looks in the future is beyond my reckoning. I look at the bird feeder in our blue spruce tree and watch as a red-bellied woodpecker intimidates his fellow feeders. They fly away from his pointed beak. But they come back. Again and again. For as long as the birdseed remains available.

Okay, sun, I know you are out there! Patience? Sure, I’ve heard of the virtue. That doesn’t mean I’m crazy enough to ask for it.

Then, thirty minutes before my younger son, Steve, is due to arrive at our house I rush outside to shovel enough space for him to get his car into our driveway. I can handle the softer additional inch in that time without breaking my back. My eyes widen when I reach the street. Some unseen elf has removed the igloo material from behind my car. I figure out who he could be within seconds and call our neighbor, Brian, to ask if he performed this minor miracle. With what I hear as a heaven-accent soft voice he says that he did. My thanks are honest; I feel warmed by his kindness.

Steve widens the driveway path and finds the road under my car. A peninsula-shaped remnant of the ice remains in the street, but every car battles that one.

My thanksgiving should be complete. I’ve just received a get-out-of-jail-free card. However, a neighbor arrives. Our older son, Greg, and a passing stranger helped her out of her driveway last week with the help of our snow shovel, spade, and a rug that should have been discarded years ago.  She gives us a loaf of homemade banana bread.

I guess I owe Greg a loaf of banana bread…Then maybe I should provide another kindness to the next person I see, to keep the blessings flowing.

(pic not taken from our area; the snow just feels this high)

high snow

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The hard and stiff will be broken, the soft and supple will prevail. (Tao te Ching)

Ice remains in patches along the sidewalk, but since I’m wearing my trusty hiking boots I move to the grass whenever possible. The snow is crunchy, but a maneuverable two-inches deep. Since my destination is downhill this ploy helps.

A thought strikes me as I notice the difference between the sidewalk that has been shoveled and the parts that haven’t been touched, the softer snow on the grass versus the ice on the sidewalk. The precipitation came from the same sky. Any good science student could explain why the snow became ice on the concrete when the temperature lowered, and the grass had an easier time with the transition. Unfortunately, I can’t answer that question beyond a superficial level without extensive research. The science buff’s enlightenment is welcome.

My meanderings step beyond the practical into metaphor—about resentments. Past hurts will never be undone, but they don’t need to continue into the present, rigid, holding onto all that falls on top of them, as if they were priceless treasures, never to be released. The ugly memories of the past can be shoveled away and dumped.

In this section of the Midwest the grass accepts the snow and remains burdened by it—for a while. Then the snow becomes softened by the soil; the earth shares the weight. As the sun warms the ground, snow melts and waters trees and grass. The ground, generally, survives.

Of course eventually, ice and rock salt create pot holes and havoc in roads, hard surfaces that crack under pressure.

I’d like to say I have lived my entire life without hurts or difficult moments. I could, but it would be complete fantasy. Few people can claim that prize. However, some of those awkward paths have led to beautiful, blessed places. Eventually. Somehow. I can’t trace the process, nor do I choose to go back and figure it out.

Today brings enough challenge, like these steps that need to be found again, under another few inches of that lovely, yet annoying white stuff. No sense in arguing with Mother Nature. She is much larger than I am.snowy steps

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