Photo: This was late morning yesterday. I don’t even know how much snow we ended up with, but it was a lot. More than I wanted. More than I need in one whole winter, let alone one single day!
It’s mighty frustrating that two little bears only went to school for two days this week. It’s extra frustrating that I spent those two days preparing for the stupid blizzard or otherwise fretting over winter complications (in other words, the boiler). I had, at least, the soundness of mind to take a break in my final kid-less hours before the storm on Wednesday. Between my crazy errands in the morning and guitar pick-up after school, I decided to go to a local Mexican restaurant for a breather.
There is nothing better than a corner booth all to yourself in a fairly empty restaurant. Take out a notebook and a pencil, order some seltzer with lime and usually you get left alone. The music was probably two decibels louder than I would have preferred, but I was content with it: I don’t understand a word of it, but Tropicales and other Latin music makes me happy. I bopped along, did a little writing in my new notebook (more on that next week) and enjoyed the best guac in the neighborhood and a paella that made my soul sing.
After my meal, I happily paid the waitress and she felt free to make a little small talk. “I have three jobs,” she told me. “Two of them are in Boston and I’m worried about getting to them tomorrow. I’m glad I don’t have to drive out here tomorrow. It’s my day off.”
She lives in Chelsea, which is a bit of a hike from where I live. We spoke about how spotty the T can be on snow days. I have plenty of memories of freezing on a platform waiting for a train. “I really wish you warmth. Your warmest coat. Your highest boots,” I said to her sincerely. The memory of that sort of cold never really leaves you. I felt it in my fingers and toes.
“Oh, that’s the best part!” She said with a smile. “I love Boston so much, you know? I love this so much.”
I was very confused.
“I am from Costa Rica,” she explained. “And you know, there are only two seasons. Summer and… like, a rainy season. I love the four seasons here. I love the boots and the coats, and the stuff to wear.”
I mean, that’s cute and all, but, I just had to know: “But the snow. Don’t you hate the snow?”
“Oh, you know, I love it. I love it because it’s quiet. That’s what I remember about my first snow and I tell my friends back home when they ask me about it–the snow, it’s so quiet. So peaceful. It’s really perfect. The world is so… still and quiet. There is nothing like that where I’m from. Now, after two days, it’s not so nice anymore. But when it’s falling…” She gave this sigh of contentedness that I wish I had the skill to articulate here. The loud Latin music seemed to hush on its own. The room, totally empty, felt cozier and smaller; she made it warmer, her presence emanating with joy.
My Quiet Thoughts have been in sincere contemplation and appreciation for that moment. How a woman from Costa Rica could, in a moment of small talk that should otherwise have been insignificant, make vivid the grace of nature’s mercurial temperament, which is actually a gift that not everyone gets to enjoy. We get the four seasons here. Each bring something beautiful. Each must be fully enjoyed while they last, because they are indeed fleeting. The next one will be here soon enough–bringing both the joys and the challenges.
I tried my best to fully feel my awe for yesterday’s storm. The wind gust so hard last night that the windows didn’t merely rattle, they moaned as the air forced its way through the old cracks in the frames. There were times when the wind blew so fiercely and the snow came so forcefully that I couldn’t see the van across the yard. In my awe, I tried to find the joy that the waitress had. I tried my best to see it as she did: less inconvenience to be loathed, but rather a work of art to be breathlessly enjoyed. I couldn’t quite get there. I held my breath when the lights flickered. I kissed my babies when, in their anxiety, they reached out for cuddles and kisses. I whispered prayer after prayer for our hard-working boiler and clanking radiators.
But I did try. And I’ll keep trying. I love the challenge of it.
Is there something you loathe that you could try to love, Dear Reader? Is there something, some part of life that is profoundly irritating, that perhaps you could turn into poetry instead? Where could you find a new piece of art where you currently see an eyesore? I’m so curious, Dear Reader. I hope you’ll take time to look this week and month (and year!) and I hope you’ll choose to share.
It is a Friday where the winds still howl and the air is too cold to comprehend. Naked trees scratch and tear at the low grey ceiling, debris skitters across the shifting snowscape, a pop of moving color against a stark-white blanket. We’ll wake up to temperatures far below 0 tomorrow, then we’ll go to bed surrounded by air as low as -20. It’s a time to say a prayer for those neighbors who struggle to find shelter, and those who have shelters they can’t always keep warm. If you are under a warm blanket, reading this blog with warmth being blown through a vent or steaming through radiators, take a moment to think about a local shelter in your community that could use a gently used coat, blanket, food or other supplies this weekend. Don’t let the next two days go by without contributing somehow. Don’t let this winter go by without contributing meaningfully to an organization that does the hard work of serving our neighbors.
It’s the first Friday of the new year. That makes this a most special night for wishes. Wishes that I hope will see you through tonight and for all the year to come.
I wish you a patient heart: here for the long nights of frustration, the short days of dreams don’t quite come to fruition. I wish you the wisdom of knowing that those nights and days are inevitability, but patience, discipline and endurance make for much more productive and gracious long days of harvest to come. I wish you a curious mind, willing to try new things, take on a fun project, attempt a different viewpoint. May you actively choose, at every opportunity, to ask a probing question instead of draw a flash conclusion. I wish you creative fingers that take up tools and materials, to make manifest some beautiful thought that your curious mind comes up with. For me, it’s bookmaking and applique. For you? Well… I hope you share. May you make a more beautiful world one creation at a time. I wish you the gift of stillness; times set aside for quiet and thought. May these moments inspire and make the way straight for you, especially when the year presents its challenges, or when the discourse around us gets loud and stupid. I wish you a hand to reach out to and ears that listen. This cuts both ways, of course: reach out when you need it, grab hold when you’re asked; listen with ears open and mouth closed, tell your story to the ears you know are truly listening.
I wish you your best strut, your deepest glow, your keenest eyes, your fiercest presence. You know you’re being watched. You know we’re all admiring you. Walk tall not because you’re being watched. Walk tall because you are loved so much, admired with such profound respect, that you can’t help but presenting your best self at all times. Glow so that others will feel brave enough to glow along with you, Dear Reader. You are infinitely beautiful. Don’t forget that for a second this year.
It’s an honor to start another year with you, Dear Reader. Thank you for being here. I’m looking forward to more growth and sharing.
Until Monday, stay warm, do something kind, and take care.