For a Day to Stay In and Make Soup

There has been no real snow for us yet this winter down at sea level although the mountains surrounding us have had plentiful snowfall, making for happy skiers and snowboarders.  So last night, the clouds did try.  The temperature was 32 degrees, the southerly winds brought in moisture and the precipitation fell.  Some of it came in snowflakes.  Some of it came in raindrops.  Most of it came down in tiny little shards of ice that cracked against the windows.

The ground was covered in slush and ice this morning while the skies still were confused about what exactly to exude.  As the temperature slowly rose, raindrops reigned.

I have always been inept at walking on slippery surfaces, probably since my first traumatic roller skating fiasco where most of the hour in the rink was spent on my butt, or pulling friends down with me as they tried to keep me upright.  I’ve skied once and that was once too much–I barely made it home.  I’ve never ice skated–simply walking down the slope to the barn on surfaces like today is adventure enough, Yak Traks and all.   I’ll confess.  My body hates sliding in any form.   My feet betray me, my balance is nonexistent, and my brain panics.  Some of us have nervous systems that can’t handle it and we will crash no matter what we do or the defensive postures we assume. If we are going to have snow, at least let it be enough to crunch through up to my knees so that if I lose my balance, I face plant into a nice drift, thank you very much.

So a skiff of snow with ice quite undid me this morning.  I managed to finish my chores after sliding gracelessly down to the barn, and defying all the laws of physics, I slid my way back up to the house, if it is possible to slide uphill.  And here I sit, looking out at it all, wishing for the mud of spring, something I feel much more at home with.

What do I do with a Saturday like this?

Make soup and hunker down.  Pull everything still edible out of the refrigerator and cut, dice, stir and simmer into something wonderful to last several days, in case I’m stranded that long.  If I can’t walk outside with confidence, I’ll at least have something inside to show for it.

Oh, and take a nap.  Maybe several.

November Gratitude–a kind word

Van Gogh Winter Landscape in Schnee

One kind word can warm three winter months.
Japanese Proverb

I know how enveloped I feel when someone says something kind to me. It is like a warm comforter wrapped around me on a chilly day.  And it lasts, even beyond the winters of my life.

I just received a hand written letter (something rare as hen’s teeth these days from our younger generation) from a patient I cared for over five years ago.  He wanted to tell me he is doing well and how he had appreciated my kindness to him.  I was astonished that he remembered me and that in his letter he was uncertain if I would remember him.  Patients don’t always know how they dwell for years in their doctors’ consciousness, how they teach us and how much we learn.  I surely did remember this patient, his struggles with drug dependency, his strong urge to kill himself, and his desperate search for a reason to keep on living.

He has kept living and is doing well.  He remembered my caring and kindness.

And now I’m wrapped in his comforting words through these chilly days.

For A New Shade of Gray

We live in a place known for its varied shades of gray landscape, especially in January.  In fact, there are some transplants to the northwest who never do adjust to the lack of color four months out of the year and simply can’t take it.  I’m sure the native coastal peoples who lived through centuries of this weather had descriptive words for all the different types of gray mirrored in the background sky, the clouds, the bay, the mountains, the dead foliage, the bare trees, just as Eskimos have dozens of different words for snow.   But our English language just fails to do justice to Pacific Northwest environmental dingy drabness other than offer two alternative spellings for gray/grey.   The sky is gray and my hair is grey.   Or maybe it’s the other way around.

I’m Washington born and raised so I’m used to it.  Our children revel in it.  Too many days without rain and we start to get edgy, our skin starts to dry out and the webs between our toes start to regress.  The gray is essential to our emotional landscape.   It is so wonderfully …. predictable.

There does come a point in mid-January when a flash of color can be a welcome shock.  A blue jay is startling perched in the gray brown branches of a naked century old apple tree.  Holly berries and rose hips look almost garish.  I almost salivate when I realize we’re only a month or so away from the white of a snowdrop flower or the lavender of a spring crocus.  A mere two months brings us right into daffodil and grape hyacinth season and only three months will bring the overwhelming pink cloud of dogwood blossoms and the riotous rainbow of tulips in the Skagit Valley.  It soon will be a feast for the eyes too much to consume in one sitting.

So until then we are fasting here in the northwest, readying ourselves for the palette that is to come.  I will be content for the time being with the spectrum of pewter skies, the ashen clouds, the smoky foothills, the cinereous low land flood waters.   It is enough for now.  It is always enough.

Until I get really hungry for more.

For the Quiet of a Winter’s Night

There is something soothing about the emptiness of a snowy winter night.  It is lack of sound, lack of color, lack of light.

It is bare bones with nothing attached.

Every once in awhile it is good to simply be. There are no rows to hoe, no grass to cut, no apples to pick, no clothes to hang up or take down.

It is easier to think that all the work is done when it is covered up with a clean white sheet and not staring you in the face.

It will rouse again, all too soon, but for now it sleeps, dark and deep.