Sometimes grey is just the right color for a day. I’m grateful for a cloudy day with scattered snow showers and mist. Wren, Topaz and I enjoyed a break from work with a mid-afternoon walk up the driveway.
Minutes after we got back inside, the dark clouds opened and snow pelted down for a few minutes, but overall only an inch or so fell here. In the mountains, though, a wealth of snow to replenish the reservoirs. I’m grateful for a cloudy day.
A quiet, snowy Saturday, sleeping late and enjoying a latté and a puzzle: I couldn’t be more grateful for these delights, and I know that it is only through the grace of my birth and the conditions that led to this moment that it is what it is. I did nearly nothing of importance today, just relaxed and enjoyed the simple pleasures of food, water, shelter, and space: the essential ingredients of any animal life.
Come ON! How fantastic is this? Garden clippers that actually ‘clip’! So grateful for the genius of the Liberty Puzzle puzzle master.
For supper, just a snack of miso-maple toasted walnuts. So simple, so delicious. Grateful to watch the finale of the 2023 Great British Baking Show, and inspired, though I’m trying to quit.
I’m grateful for the first real snow of the season, which started last night and has continued throughout the day. We woke to a couple of inches this morning, and at bedtime tonight it’s up to five or six. So it’s been slow and easy all day. The first snow of the year always reminds me of Conrad Aiken’s short story “Silent Snow, Secret Snow,” and brings that muffled sense of peace and isolation he captured so intimately. Wren knows nothing about that story, dwelling in the moment with a snowball on the deck. Seconds after we came inside a snow shelf slid off the roof that would have buried her.
Any money I saved (and there was plenty) by not buying things I don’t need with money I don’t have was instantly offset by the new starter for the Honda. Otherwise, No-Buy November was a smashing success. I’m grateful for the mindful practice of not being a consumer for most of last month, except of groceries and an essential car repair. It’s reset my spendometer to zero and I intend to creep along at a much slower pace going forward. In fact, I’m planning on a Junk-free January, where not only do I not buy anything I don’t need including junk food, but I’ll work hard on getting rid of things I don’t need or that don’t spark joy.
Obviously, because of the joy they spark and the mental exercise, I won’t be relinquishing any Liberty puzzles. I’m grateful to have a couple of new puzzles from our Maryland satellite library, and started a lovely one today after wrapping up the week’s work.
There’s a floral theme, and I started with the easy part, the garden stool. I love, as usual, how the pieces align with the image, as in the bird piece above landing on the bird image. Another trick in this puzzle which is rare in these masterpieces, is at least one piece that fits where it doesn’t belong. I’ve seen this a few times, and know it’s an intentional mind game from the puzzle master, which adds to the delight.
I’m grateful for the luxury of having more than I need, and the wisdom to recognize it. I’m grateful for the lessons of No-Buy November and the motivation to pare down and simplify.
I was grateful to wake this morning to a few inches of snow, especially knowing it means a lot of snow in the mountain reservoir: an auspicious beginning to our essential snowpack. The deer were grateful for leaves lowered within browsing range by heavy snow. Morning coffee was naturally enjoyed indoors, with a little beggar hoping for a nut from my trail mix cookie. Even Topaz didn’t want to go outside.
I was grateful to see that the dough I let rise overnight formed into a perfect ball when I took it out of the bowl to proof it. I was even more grateful to see the perfect loaf that baked in the cast iron dutch oven. While the bread rose and baked, I was grateful for some loving connection with friends and family over phone and zoom, cozy in my warm home with the little animals and the fire in the woodstove, the scent of baking bread…
The zoom call with Catherine Ingram was especially comforting, finding commonality with others around the globe who are all heartsick over the conditions of power, war, violence, and cruelty rising like a brewing storm. Catherine quoted Kierkegaard in cautioning us to not be ‘tranquilized by the trivial,’ and advised that sometimes the most we can do is simply to “be a light in our own lives – and that starts with being a light in yourself.” There was so much more, and I’ll share the link to the podcast when the conversation is edited and published.
This might be the most beautiful loaf ever! And certainly it was delicious. Naturally I had bread for lunch: the warm heel with butter and some fromage fort that I whipped up with the last bits of some cheddar, havarti, smoked gouda, and mozzarella. So simple, so delicious! For dessert, not surprisingly, I enjoyed a piece of toast with apricot jam. So decadent!
Much of the snow melted during the afternoon, and evening brought a partial clearing of the skies. Then in the span of half an hour the view of Needle Rock went from this…
to this, as setting sun cast its apricot glow on another shower:
I finally couldn’t stand it any longer. With temperatures above 50℉ the past two days, it was time to get into the garden. I needed some of the wire cages to protect the tulips poking up through mud, before the does destroyed them. The cages were stored in the back shed, so I had to brave a snow field to get to them.
The first few steps were easy: snow crusty enough to hold my weight. Then I punched through. Little Wren danced around on top of the crust the whole time. So did Topaz. It was a long way to the shed and it was rough on my knees and my back. I found a shorter way out, after dropping the cages over the back fence where I could get to them easily from outside. Then I crawled over the crust for twenty feet til I got up next to the raised beds, where reflected heat had melted a narrow path. It was fun, crawling over the snow, and doubled as icing on my knees.
I’m grateful for where I live, and for neighbors who share certain values that reflect an understanding of our interdependence. We don’t agree on everything, and some of us barely agree on anything, but we do share a love of the land on which we live, and a willingness to help each other out when what we can offer is needed. Big thanks to neighbor Joe for all the plowing he’s done this winter, and for pulling my car out of the snowbank with his tractor this afternoon.
It’s possible that there is someone in the neighborhood who didn’t look outside this evening and marvel at the truly astonishing colors that permeated everything from sky to snow to winter junipers. But it’s not likely. One of the values we share is a reverence for the beauty of the place we live.
I’m grateful today for sunshine! The past two days have been gloriously springlike. Now that I’ve stopped the ice melting into the mudroom, it was time for me to get stuck in the driveway. We didn’t even have much snow, just ferocious wind for a whole day, and forty acres of snow blew over the banks and across my driveway.
I should have backed up the second I saw drifts, but it didn’t look too bad so I tried to punch through. A short way up I realized I’d never make it to the top, so I backed carefully down. But not carefully enough. Once the drifts gave out I was moving too fast and slid into a plowed bank. I left it and walked home for lunch. I’m grateful that it only took a text to a neighbor to get the drifts plowed–I figured once the drive was passable I could dig myself out and forge ahead.
He wasn’t able to plow til evening, and I was happy to wait til this morning to dig out. I was grateful to have the right tools for the job again. But sometimes even the right tools aren’t enough. An hour’s work with shovels, cardboard, and kitty litter, and I was a few inches deeper into the snowbank. I’m grateful for neighbors with tractors, trucks, and chains, and know someone will pull the car out eventually. Maybe tomorrow! I’m grateful for patience and good cheer.
I’m grateful for YouTube where I found a great hack for scanning old slides, which I took some time to do today. I simply held each slide up to the bright white screen of my laptop and took a picture with my phone. Not perfect, but not bad, considering they’re sixty years old or so. I’m grateful for the memories conjured by these old slides, and feelings of tenderness for my family.
Above, the little children are in Italy, I’m pretty sure, and below I think we’re in Holland, because that was my mother’s note on the envelope: slides – Holland, etc.
Full circle back to snow, here I am with mommy and likely my first snow. Who’d ever have imagined this little tyke would grow up to rely on snow so directly, deal with it so intimately, and be so sanguine about leaving her car stuck in it for days. I’m grateful for the practice that allows me to hold with equanimity and love all the feelings I’m having today.
I’m also having some feelings about Covid, which are clarified by this excerpt from Eric Topol’s newsletter today:
“First, we sit at a very high baseline of daily Covid hospitalizations and deaths in the United States, over 25,000 and about 400, respectively. This is far beyond (double) where we were in June 2021, pre-Delta, when we got down to close to 10,000 hospitalizations and ~200 deaths per day. There’s still circulating virus (currently XBB.1.5) getting people infected and some of the folks of advanced age and immunocompromised are the ones chiefly winding up with severe Covid. The virus is finding the vulnerable people more easily since their guard is let down, abandoning high-quality masks and other mitigations, and the low rate of keeping up with boosters in the last 6 months (the age 65+ rate is 40%). There are about 15% of Americans (more than what many people think or have been led to believe), based on all the serologic data available, who never had Covid and are relying on their vaccines/boosters to avoid their first infection. Reinfections among the 85% with prior Covid are not uncommon and not necessarily benign. No less, the pervasive attitude is the pandemic is over, life goes on. That’s helping the virus find new or repeat hosts.”
Two more views of the virgin snow the other day, followed by the plowed driveway today. So grateful for friendly bartering for services and goods in the neighborhood.
Grateful for warmth, color, and comfort inside, as I’m grateful for winter water outside. Grateful as always for a roof over our heads. And grateful for a sweet summery puzzle to do on these dark days, a rainbow of color and texture. Grateful to be alive, and have meaningful work teaching, and have a quiet weekend.
I’ll be teaching the Introduction to Mindfulness course live on zoom starting March 2, from 2-3 pm Mountain Time, only $50 per person for the four-week class. Get it while this price lasts, as I realize I can’t sustain it and will have to raise it some. Check it out and register here.
It’s been a crazy couple of days of winter here, as it has in much of the country. I’m grateful when I wake on a morning like yesterday or today just to have a roof over my head, and a woodstove I can load with fuel to warm the house. And grateful for the luxuries of coffee, cinnamon rolls, and indoor plants. Snow blew so hard yesterday it stuck to windows it still hasn’t melted from.
The driveway drifted in dramatic waves so deep that I couldn’t make it past the trees in my boots, as it was still blowing and I hadn’t worn a scarf, and Wren was too short to get through the drifts once we passed the first few. I’m grateful as always for kind neighbors, and the feeling of connection that comes from knowing they’re just beyond the sea of snow if I need them.