The sun is shining invitingly with no great warmth to offer. For many days we’ve been saddled with temperatures far below seasonal, contending with vehicle trouble, slippery roads and dangerous windchill warnings.
Doing anything in extreme cold presents a fair amount of challenges, especially since it was such a quick switch. Our winter had been unseasonably mild up until the day before the polar vortex blew in.
I open the front curtains, harnessing some of that precious and wonderful sunshine. Most days it warms the room so much that the furnace gets a bit of a break, but on a day where the high is -21 degrees Celsius with a windchill of -30 it’s more for the wonderful dose of vitamin D and the way the light boosts my mood.
In the middle of the frustrations of extreme cold, I’ve been struck by its strange, otherworldly beauty.
Sunrises and sunsets have a soft rose-gold hue. The glowing quarter moon is perfectly clear against the inky black of the cold night sky, the outline of its mysterious dark side now visible from the ground. Millions of stars sparkle in their constellations as billowing clouds and thin curls of chimney smoke rise slowly from all the houses and buildings below. Streetlights illuminate tiny diamonds floating in the air; ice crystals that settle gently on everything they touch, giving trees and roofs and cars and fences a beautiful frosty kiss.
The snow crunches beneath your feet as you walk – the orchestra of snowflakes.
It makes me grateful for the small things that are suddenly big things: thick socks and warm boots on my feet. A jacket that keeps the wind out. The handmade scarf from my mom, the big old “garbage man” leather gloves from my brother, and the Canadian wool hat I picked up on a whim while out shopping a few years ago. The hot cup of coffee I’m sipping out of a clean travel mug while I drive a fairly reliable vehicle around a city where crews work non-stop to clear and sand wintery roads.
A home to return to where I can turn up the furnace, put on my slippers and favourite sweater, and cook a hot meal to enjoy with the ones I love.
There is much to be thankful for, even in the middle of the longest cold snap in decades.
I write this down so that I can remember to choose gratitude the next time I am running late, crouching down in a -40 windchill at the gas station, my frozen fingers clumsily attempting to fill my tires with air.
There is beauty in even this season.