After Advent and Christmas I thought it was time to change my blog background. I loved that dark red with the candle, but it didn't seem well suited to the post-Christmas period, so I settled on this snow background, which is perfect given all the snow we've had since last week.
I know this is a cliche (one that those people who flock to Florida for any/all of the winter probably just laugh at) -- but it really is nice to live in a place that has four distinct seasons. I love the promise of spring, the long days of summer, the colourful beauty of fall, and the crispness of winter. But lately winter has been the wimpiest of the seasons: last year we had very little snow (although, when we say "Basically we had no winter last year," Allison reminds us that there were three days that the school buses didn't run, which is a good point).
But this winter, before December was even over, we had a huge dumping of the White Stuff. It's so beautiful! Today Allison and I took a walk to Tim's. Although in some places the sidewalk plowing was hit-or-miss (which doesn't bother me as much as it used to when I pushed a stroller), the cold wind and bright sunshine were bracing and exhilarating. Like another cliche says: there's no bad weather, only inappropriate clothing.
I know winter can be a season of dread for some people. It can be confining for those who have trouble getting around, depressing for those who need more light and warmth, and stressful for those who have to do a lot of driving in less-than-ideal conditions. But it's a beautiful season too. In his book Let Your Life Speak, Parker Palmer has a chapter on the seasons as metaphor for life's changes, and he writes this about winter:
"In the Upper Midwest, newcomers often receive a classic piece of wintertime advice: 'The winters will drive you crazy until you learn to get out into them.' Here people spend good money on warm clothing so that they can get outdoors and avoid the 'cabin fever' that comes from huddling fearfully by the fire during the hard-frozen months. If you live here long, you learn that a daily walk into the winter world will fortify the spirit by taking you boldly to the very heart of the season you fear.
Our inward winters take many forms -- failure, betrayal, depression, death. But every one of them, in my experience, yields to the same advice: 'The winters will drive you crazy until you learn to get out into them.' Until we enter boldly into the fears we most want to avoid, those fears will dominate our lives. But when we walk directly into them -- protected from frostbite by the warm garb of friendship or inner discipline or spiritual guidance -- we can learn what they have to teach us. Then we discover once again that the cycle of the seasons is trustworthy and life-giving, even in the most dismaying season of all."