It’s Really Cold

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.

snowflake aaron burden

Image: Aaron Burden

I’m Typing With One Hand

Frozen mornings and warm afternoons.

March sunshine is powerful here. It melts away a landscape full of snow and cold, and brings the hope that one day soon it really will be a new season.

These sunny days are a balm for winter-weary souls. We are the hearty, the strong Canadian kind who look forward to snowstorms and can’t wait to play outside. But come March, even we long for the tradition of swatting mosquitoes around the campfire.

I am learning this simple truth: there is beauty in every season.

Winter’s frigid cold brings pastel skies and pale sunshine that makes the air sparkle with diamond dust.

Spring holds the beauty of birdsong and budding trees and flowers.

Summer’s heat grows our gardens and offers us long, warm evenings to play in.

Fall’s glorious colour is a second Spring of sorts, and its crisp air refreshes our senses.

Every year we receive these blessings without fail.

In my life I tend to see the glaring difficulties of the season I am in. And in my haste to focus on the negative, I sometimes miss the little lovely moments that really make this season beautiful. This morning, for the very first time in her seven years of life, our oldest daughter, our early riser, sleepily asked me to “wake her up in ten minutes”.  I got to kiss my husband and we laughed together before he left for work. I have a small silky-headed boy in my arms, gnawing on my shoulder, chattering away, slowly tuckering himself out for a nap. And the middle two girls are currently wrapped up in a world of their imaginings, creating a story out of thin air and random household objects.

I kiss my boy’s chubby little cheek, knowing that before long, he will be right in the middle of all if it, running to keep up with the big kids.

I’m typing with one hand. It is taking me three times as long this way, but I don’t mind.

This is the beauty in my season – all the ordinary moments that are extraordinary to me.

Bluebird sky

A Bluebird Sky in March – my view from the backyard.

The Time Machine: 3 Weeks of Thanks

The Time Machine series features posts from years past.

Five years ago I started to make Thanksgiving a bit more of a season in our home with something I call “3 Weeks of Thanks”. This was originally posted in September 2015.  Enjoy!


wildflower bouquet

We grew these in our backyard in the summer of 2015

This is my third year attempting to make Thanksgiving into something of a season in our home.  I call it 3 Weeks of Thanks.

Christmas gets a nice long season with fun festivities.  Easter gets at least a week.

But Thanksgiving?  Usually it’s like, “oh by the way we’re having Thanksgiving dinner in three days from now – what do you want to bring?”

“YIPES!  Cook the potatoes!  Did we get a big enough turkey? Should I mash that can-shaped cranberry sauce or leave it in the shape of the can?  I think we need more stuffing.”

Fun and yummy!  BUT…  it’s more than all that.  Reading the news lately makes me realize that my kids are experiencing a life that most people do not.  The things that are so normal for them are completely out of reach for many kids their age.  My heart aches to think that they will become entitled and take these things for granted.

And yet, I know they probably will.  It’s human nature.  They will look back at my ideas like 3 Weeks of Thanks and think, “boy, my mom was the cheesiest woman on the planet.  Remember when we used to write all those things we were thankful for on those construction paper leaves and tape them to the wall for the Thanksgiving Tree?  No one actually has a thanksgiving tree.  What a ridiculous thing that isn’t a real thing.”

But you know what?  I don’t care.  I want them to understand that everything we have is not because we are awesome and can do it all by ourselves.  I want them to know that God is real.  He is present.  He is WITH us.  He is worthy of our worship.  He is the source of Life.

And when they begin to realize that life is not fair, bad things happen, and even that people do bad things, I want them to know everything is not random and pointless.

Hard to imagine that a construction paper tree is going to make a difference when that time comes.  But God shows up in very ordinary things.  And He uses very ordinary people.
3WT Week#1:

“But Jesus said, ‘Let the children come to me.  Don’t stop them!  For the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to those who are like these children.”

Matthew 19:14 (NLT)