Firebirdlifecoach's Blog

Pursuing a Passionate Life

In Every Season November 24, 2013

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PerspectiveWe woke this morning to a light dusting of snow. Which was perfect, since the only part I can remember from my very active dreaming last night was that, I awoke in my dream, to the first dusting of snow. I was glad that I hadn’t had a dream about the first blizzard of the season as I was not ready for that just yet! Beyond the snow the temperatures here never rose above twenty-four degrees Fahrenheit on my outdoor thermometer and the wind was ferocious. And… there was something thrilling about all of it.
When I was little, winter was my favorite season. I enjoyed the crispness in the air, and the snow, the lovely, quiet, magical snow. I wasn’t a skier, though when I grew older I did find I enjoyed cross-country skiing. Nor, have I ever liked the layers of extra clothing or the early disappearance of the sun from the afternoon sky – and yet winter was my favorite time of year. Now as I am older, with a sometimes questionable back and the responsibility of; if not doing all of the snow removal, at least the coordination of said removal, along with the cost of the winter heating bills and that has taken a bit of the bloom off of the winter rose.
At this point in my life, I guess all of the seasons are my favorites. They each have their upsides and their downsides – but I guess the thing that stands out to me most – is how beautiful each season can be. Trees are lovely for instance; in early bud, in full bloom, in autumn glory and in their slender delicacy without leaves. There is something equally lovely about the first warm breezes of spring, the hot sun in summer, the crisp coolness of fall and the brisk bracing blast of winter cold.
Spring –Renewal,
Summer – Passionate Life,
Autumn – Harvest and Home,
Winter – Reflection.
It’s all good. I may be singing a different tune a few weeks from now, but today, I am grateful for the first day of “real” cold and wintry flakes. I guess reflecting on the seasons is a lot like reflecting on life itself, there are ups and downs, good bits and bad – but viewed from a certain perspective all parts have their place and the frozen days of our lives make the warm breezes all the more welcome.

 

Go ahead, let it snow. January 21, 2012

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It’s late January here in New England and apparently the universe has woken to the fact that in the wintertime around here there usually is this white stuff that falls out of the sky, it’s called snow. Not that it is a momentous storm or anything mind you but it is coming down, and by the time it stops we should have 4-6 inches of fluffiness on the ground. In fact, this is the fourth snow fall of the week and even though the other three were only an inch or two, each one required me to clear our heavily shaded driveway and sidewalk or else risk the ice rink that is sure to form. But that’s okay, like any good New Englander – I have the tools necessary for the job: the big, heavy “pushing” shovel, the curved, lifting shovel, the push and regular brooms for the porch and of course my new personal favorite – the snowblower. (Purchased last year before the deluge, and paid for over six months before the store credit card started accruing interest, this bad boy has become my new best friend.  And though I am tempted here to go on and on about how my snowblower paid for itself multiple times with last year’s record-setting snow totals, or how sometimes it is reluctant start yet so far always manages to come around to seeing things my way – I will restrain myself.)

Because what I really just wanted to mention briefly today is that there is a part of me that still loves the snow! Sure as the years go on, and my back gets weaker there have been many a time when I have cursed the winter and all the snow that comes along with it, but that doesn’t mean I don’t like it altogether. There is no denying that a fresh blanket of the white stuff can be extraordinarily beautiful on the leaf bare trees, house roofs and brown grass. The sparkle of fresh snow in the moonlight is magical. And when the storm first passes and the sky re-emerges – it seems bluer and more clear than on any other day when the ground is not covered by a fresh coating of snow. But one of the things I like the most is the silence. That absolute stillness in the air when the snow is coming down is perfection!

So though I may be singing a different tune as the next few weeks go by and the slush and ice and piles of dirt encrusted snow likely will accumulate, I just wanted to acknowledge this little moment in time when I am still enamoured of waking to a snowy, snowing morning. It makes me think of my sister, and how we used to like to take a walk down to the park when we were young as the snow fell and the quiet surrounded us. There was a time when winter was my favorite season – and though more recently I have come to truly hate being cold – apparently I have not lost my love and appreciation for the magical healing serenity of a new blanket of snow. Happy shoveling!

 

The Weight of the Wait February 26, 2010

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I think living in New England (and other areas of the planet that experience “traditional winter weather”) requires a certain heartiness that folks in warmer climates don’t require. However it is always interesting (particularly with the climate changes of recent years). There’s an expression that pretty much sums it up – “If you don’t like the weather in New England, just wait five minutes.” And it’s true – today started off sunny and mild though there had been a dusting of snow overnight and a forecast for torrential rains all day. Throughout the day, it alternately was cold with snow squalls, rainy, windy and/or quiet. Every time you looked out the window there was something else going on – I was waiting for it to rain actual cats and dogs, ‘cause it would have seemed like just the right day for it. Our promise for the weekend – more unpredictable precipitation – rain, snow flurries and even some accumulations in some areas – what could be better than that? Well, actually a little sunshine and warming temperatures would be nice.

When the winter months reach their last legs, the weather is on everyone’s mind. I would bet that at least 90% of people who interacted with another human being in New England today talked about the weather at least once. “Talking about the weather” – the cliché icebreaker is more than just idle chatter in my belief. Around these parts I think that it is a way for people to bond together against something that is greater than they are. (That, and it provides an excellent opportunity for one-up’s-man ship – “You think you have it bad, we got 10 inches of heavy, wet snow last night in my town  – my back was breaking!”) After all, no one I know can change it and everyone is affected by it. At this time of the year and for the next month and a half or so as spring teases us with the promise of warmer days and sunny skies – there is a combined sense of impatience, resolve and hopefulness. We’re almost there… just a few more weeks… a few more snow storms and we will be rewarded.

When you think about the bonding we do over the trials of untamable Mother Nature – you know you are participating in a ritual that has been handed-down from one generation to the next in many parts of the world. It is the ultimate realization of the smallness of our presence in the eternal evolution of the planet and of our interconnected experience. You may feel all alone looking down the long snow-covered driveway, shovel in hand pondering the work ahead of you, but you are not, and later you will get the opportunity to swap stories with your co-workers and family. We are a hearty and hopeful lot – bound together by some frozen water crystals and the promise of daffodils.

 

Snowplows, Chickadees and Roses January 21, 2010

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So it’s my day off and I have a list a mile long of things I want and need to do. I know that there aren’t enough hours in the day to get everything done and some of the items will surely carry-over to my next list. I am sorry to say I am going to have to add shoveling the driveway to that list – because I know it will be time-consuming and given the current state of circumstances it will be impossible to do a really good job with it. Over the last couple of days we have had a steady covering of heavy, wet sloppy slush, and though “my plow guy” saw fit to plow 2” of light powder a couple of weeks ago that I could have literally blown off my driveway with one deep breath, apparently he didn’t think a few inches of heavy slush was plow worthy.

So today I awoke to what is now a frozen, lumpy mess, packed down by the wheels of my car and the footsteps of my family – it will be difficult to scrape away with a shovel. Likely, I will have to give it several goes, hoping to do both an early and later pass when the temperature rises this afternoon. I went out on the porch to survey the situation and muster the energy needed to give it a go, feeling more than just a bit overwhelmed and cranky about the need to take on this added, highly undesirable task I sat down for a moment just to take it all in. As I was sitting there I couldn’t help but to hear and to see the myriad of birds that were flitting around the yard. Starlings, Sparrows, Chickadees, Juncos, a Tufted Titmouse and a pair of Cardinals were all busily hopping around from tree to bush doing whatever it is that birds are doing when they mount their seemingly disorganized search for food among the snowy branches. And I have to tell you – I began to feel a noticeable shift in my mood. Sure, I still was aware of the shoveling that lay before me – but I was also enlivened by the simple beauty of those crazy birds.

Every day in our rush to get things done I think we often overlook the little, simple gifts that surround us. I think we forget to notice all we do have when we are focused on what we don’t. “Don’t forget to stop and smell the roses” they come in endless varieties.

 

Freezing temperatures, backaches and a little bit o’ magic January 3, 2010

Snow Day!!!

When we were kids, those two words meant a kind of excitement and glee that was usually reserved for holidays and amusement parks. It combined with a curious sense of victory, as if nature’s elements were “in cahoots  with” the wishes and will of kids to thwart the school system and its grown-up demands. For those of us who grew up in climates where winter meant; blizzards and ice – the memories of snow days are a part of our childhood.  As a mother of two school-aged sons I can say – that hasn’t changed. My younger son, (having learned this little bit of childhood magic from a friend), will also occasionally put a spoon in the freezer on the eve of a possible snow storm to appease the snow gods and to encourage them to bury us in the white fluffy stuff.

As an adult, unless you are a skier, and I am not, it seems many of us look out the window as the flakes pile up and can almost feel the beginnings of the backache which is sure to follow. The shoveling, snow blowing, salting, and the financial outlay for having your driveway plowed – definitely sets up a different set of expectations when the meteorologists start talking about an impending snow storm. It has been snowing here on and off since the 31st and though the accumulation is not significant – it is still enough to have to deal with in one way or another. I just came in from my ritual “sweeping off of the porch”, (as it is too soon to start any actual shoveling) and the snow still falling steadily.

It’s coming down a little more enthusiastically then earlier and the wind is whipping the flakes around so that each one stings as it hits your face. But, after I finished cleaning the porch, I went inside grabbed my coffee and came back out to sit and watch and admire. The still quiet that fills the air when it snows combined with the smooth softness of the drifts and the swirl of the flakes is always so wonderful. Yep, there is no getting around it – no matter how inconvenient and exhausting a snow storm can be – there is an undeniably magical beauty to it. Even when you are indoors looking out – there is a special feeling of warmth and calm to know that your day will be spent at home and maybe you’ll even get inspired to make a bread or a nice soup (if you are lucky enough to have the ingredients). Then again maybe you’ll get some chores done, or maybe you will relax with a book or movie or board-game, heck maybe you’ll even consider going outside and romping around in it a bit – but whatever you will do will be touched by the sense that it is not just any old day – it is a SNOW DAY! And it is magic….