Winter Joy

“Love the moment, and the energy of that moment will spread
beyond all boundaries.”      —-Corita Kent

Photo Credit:  Geoffery Kehrig

Winter Joy

This week the children in my neighborhood have reminded me of a life lesson I often forget.  It’s been an unusual winter in upstate New York.  Winter festivals are about to begin with no snow or ice.  There are no ice fishing shanties on the lake and no sound of the snowmobilers on the trails behind our house.  The kids’ ice hockey games are suspended temporarily and sleds rest up against garage walls waiting for adventure.

The up and down swings in temperature have given us a mixture of rain, snow, and sun.  As adults we tend to find these brief snow squalls, downpours, and high winds an irritation and inconvenience.  Children find in them opportunity.

Our front yard and driveway often flood, making it a challenge to walk the dog or get the newspaper or mail.  On a particularly rainy day this week I was watching the growing lake in the front yard when the children on my street began their daily walk to the bus stop.  These are very cute kids.  Toddlers and pre-schoolers walk along with their mothers and school-age brothers and sisters.  On this rainy day they came down the street in their colorful raincoats and rainboots, some holding patterned umbrellas.  Then they came upon our lake.  It was enough to stop them dead in their tracks.  A few began to move toward the water, then a few more, and the splashing began.  The mothers with them just took it all in stride as mothers often have to.  After all, they were wearing boots!  And this was certainly more fun than the slow walk toward the bus.

A few days later the temperatures dropped and the lake froze over. The lower half of the driveway and part of the front yard became a very enticing skating rink.  So on the way to the bus this day the children stopped walking and edged over to the ice, sliding along as far as they could go until the ice became bare ground.

We had only one brief snowstorm recently, just a few inches but enough to coat the ground.  And there on a few lawns in the neighborhood snowmen began to appear.  Not quite the huge, chunky snowmen built after a northern blizzard, but still snowmen with character.  And then the blue and red plastic saucers came out of the garages and the sledding began.  The front yard of a house down the street has a slight hill that slopes down to the road.  The kids were sliding down the hill on their saucers.   As I watched the saucers stop at the bottom of the hill just short of the edge of the road, I had a momentary flashback to the year my oldest daughter was in preschool.  One of her classmates that year was sledding down a hill in her front yard that snowy winter when the sled kept on going right into the street.  The child was hit by a car and died.  That was the first of more than five classmates who died during my daughter’s educational years.  I thought about running down the street to warn the mother of those children to stop them from sledding that day, but the sleds stopped at the edge of the road, we live on a cul-de-sac, and I was just overreacting to possible danger.  Danger is everywhere today for our children and grandchildren.  So I didn’t meddle.  I just tried to remember what it was like to be young and love snow so much, you were willing to get very wet and cold to have a few hours of outdoor fun, something that has been hard to come by this year.

So as I try to adapt to the idiosyncrasies of this winter season, I am so grateful to the children on my street who look for and find adventure and fun in the simplest moments of life.  This is a lesson I had certainly forgotten, and it has given me a fresh perspective on making the most of any situation.

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