Farewell to Winter

IMG_4065 editIMG_4046 editFarewell to watching the snow banks mount to the window sills and the thermometer drop out of sight,

to pulling elastic snow pants cuffs down over small boots,

to snow caves, snow men, and snow angels,

to a world that sparkles like a thousand diamonds in the sunshine,

to stepping in unexpected snow water puddles in stocking feet.

IMG_3886 editIMG_4176 editIMG_3888 editFarewell to the sometimes exquisite, always relentless work of the winter wind, 

to the battle for an open driveway,

to the endlessly shifting sea of snow dunes,

to snow banners off the shed roof.IMG_3911 editFarewell to rainbow sun dogs,

to silver moonlight on midnight blankets of snow,

to Orion, that great starry hunter,

and to the way he and all the rest of the host of heaven twinkles most splendidly on the bitterest of winter nights.IMG_3868 editIMG_4095 editFarewell to conjuring up baking projects just for the sake of making the kitchen cozy,

to scooping up great bowls of freshly-fallen snow to make snow ice cream,

to in-season citrus in the refrigerator drawer,

to rosy-cold cheeks bent appreciatively over steaming hot drinks.IMG_4056 editIMG_4048 editFarewell to the best and longest ski season in years,

to solo breaking trails through the sunset fields,

to swishing beneath the low-hung golden-green cedars while the swans murmur to each other along the banks of a laughing river,

to laughing with friends through the trials of sticky afternoon snow,

to the great frontier of yet-unexplored trails that must now wait until next season.IMG_2945 editIMG_3497 editFarewell to the long dark of winter evenings,

to dinners made elegant by candlelight,

to laps made warm by quilting projects,

to chapters read aloud by lamplight,

to games played late with old friends, and new.img_4154-edit.jpgFarewell to winter.

Welcome to spring.

“You have established all the boundaries of the earth; You have made summer and winter.” (Psalm 74:17)

 

Winter Fun

IMG_5779-1.jpgRun, slide, repeat.

That’s what I and the otters did last week, I on my skis, they out on the ice, each in our own way celebrating the return of glorious winter to the northwoods.  That early November snow was some of the finest I’ve ever been privileged to make a trail through, and judging from their antics across the lake, perhaps the ice was, too?  Anyway, we certainly seemed to be agreed on the idea that all this cold stuff was meant to be enjoyed!

Then, as the sun lowered on the horizon, they’d run off in a companionable row, as you see them above, straight into their cozy den, and I’d swish my way back to my warm little house to wrap my cold fingers around a hot mug and sip steaming sweetness.  IMG_5812.JPGAh, winter with all your juxtapositions of icy beauty and cozy routines—how glad I and my sleek fun-loving neighbors are to welcome you back!

And speaking of fun, thank you to each one of you who played along in my little guessing game a couple posts back!  In case you forgot or missed the post, I asked people to guess the book of the Bible where the “psalm” I used in the post was found, as well as which photo was taken in the city rather than the country.

The correct answers were: 1) the book of Daniel (2:19-23, if you want to look it up!) and 2) the first photo of bright red snake root vines.  Unfortunately, nobody quite managed to guess both correctly, so I shall have to reserve my promised prizes for a later date!  (So if you’re terribly disappointed about that, I’m sorry, but stay tuned for another chance!)

If nothing else, it was just fun for me to see who actually reads my blog.  And, by the way, that goes for every time someone takes the time to comment, whether here or on Facebook.  It’s a tiny bit of thoughtful encouragement that always makes my day, and I’m grateful!

“A man has joy in an apt answer, And how delightful is a timely word!” (Proverbs 15:23)

 

Sunlight and Shadows

IMG_9241.JPGWhen the winter days are so terribly short in the first place, one is all the more grateful for the sunshine when it blazes.  The last few days have been gloriously full of light, and I went out into it as often as I could, cutting new ski trails through the woods and hardly needing a coat, so warm I’d become between the exertion and the sunshine.  It’s so easy to love winter when the fresh snow is sparkling and billowy, and the sun sets in a blaze of fire at the end of each day.

These are the kind of days where I can go out and be completely content taking photos of nothing but the shadows across the snow, mesmerized by the art created by such simple combinations of the trees and a low-blazing sun.  It was a wonderland of artful graphic design, wind texture, trunk stripes and interlocking branch lace, painted across the sweeping canvas of sparkling unmarred snow.  I hated to ruin any of it with a ski trail—but then there would always be an even more inspiring display of shadow around the next curve in the trail.img_9245IMG_9251-1.jpgBut then there is today, when a warm snap is melting sad dirty spots in the plowed snow banks and the sky is one solid wash of nondescript gray.  The light filtering foggily through those clouds is so diffused, there aren’t any shadows.  This, I must admit, is not quite so inspiring.  And it’s strange how easy it is to let one’s mood swing with it.

And then, I am reminded, in a funny sort of way, of what my eldest daughter said when she prayed before supper the other night:

“Dear Lord, thank you for chicken, and squash, and milk…and something that I don’t know what it is.  Amen.”

My husband and I exchanged amused glances.  There was no doubt that she was referring to the helping of cream sautéed cabbage I had spooned onto her plate just before we bowed our heads, at which she had wrinkled her nose uncertainly.  In a familiar, happy world of bright orange buttercup squash with puddles of melting butter, cold glasses of milk and roasted chicken crusted with fragrant herbs, this limp pile of beige and brown was getting a low rating indeed.

But, to our surprise, she included it in her list of thank yous anyway.  It was different and unappealing, but she said thank you.  (Later, she was to find that her first impressions were all wrong, that cabbage sauteed in cream was actually really good.)

And I was convicted.  Gray days and dirty snowbanks are perhaps as uninspiring to me as creamed cabbage is unappetizing to a 4-year-old—but do I say thank you for them as readily as she did?  Do I trust that all the things my heavenly Father puts on my plate are for my good?  Cabbage, gray skies…or otherwise?  Do you?

“In everything give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” (1 Thessalonians 5:18)

 

 

 

 

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And Then Came Winter

img_8273One day it was fall, the next morning we awoke to winter.  A world of brown suddenly transformed to a world of white.  Just like that.

My oldest daughter came walking out of her bedroom, eyes sparkling. “It’s SNOWTIME, Mommy!!!”

My two-year-old, upon being lifted up to a window so she could see, exclaimed in wide-eyed, sincere amazement, “Oh. My. Goodness.”

img_8270IMG_8260.JPGIt was wonderful.

I love how every year the beauty of winter manages to take me by surprise, evoking the same kind of childish wonder in my soul that I saw on my children’s faces.

I could hardly wait until later, when I was finally able to slip on my skis and go out into it.  I glided over the unbroken surface, daring to cut a crisp twin track through the artful riffles of drifting snow.   The evening star winked at me in the lavender sky above the snowy pines, and the lake, still unfrozen, glimmered pale gold and pink—and silently I breathed thanks for the glory of a new season.

img_8373And for something else, too, because there were two things to be thankful for, really.  The pure clean snow, yes—but, even more, how it symbolized the state of my heart.

“…though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool. (Isaiah 1:18)

Once upon a time, my heart was stained with sin, glaring crimson as the most brilliant maples of autumn—but then came the day I gave it all to Christ, and the transformation was just as sudden and wonderful as this overnight advent of winter.