Scenes From Ontario Winter

I cast my shadow over white banks
assert my presence, proud, defiant

Will find beauty in deserted golf courses
and colour in a monochrome season

I am haunted by a Winter state of mind
resolved to stretch myself despite creeping chill.

(Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge is winter scenes. This Winter I am challenging myself to endure a season that typically I escape. I am determined to find the blessings. So far, so good.)

Pausing to Revel

Remnants of wrapping paper peek out from under the sofa. Leftover goodies tempt from the countertop. In the aftermath of our family gathering, I pause to enjoy the peace, processing the sweetness of the day.

So many precious moments:

“Grandma, can we have another present?” Three-year-old August, so enthralled with the magic of the day.

“Mom, this soup is the best yet!” So heartwarming to be able to cook for loved ones and witness their enjoyment.

“Who wants to help Grandma?” Three eager faces gathering around.

My heart is full and I am exhausted.

This is the advantage of this stage of life: the ability to imbibe in the pause.

(Thursdays I write about the things that fill me with gratitude. My challenge this week is “pause“. Image from personal collection.)

“It’s the Best!”

“Wait till I tell my Mom I’m having hot chocolate for dinner! Do you have marshmallows, too?” she’d excitedly asked the waitress.

“No marshmallows, but we have whip cream.”

“Oh yum!”

Children are so easy to please. I’d been in emergency all day, but didn’t want to cancel plans, so Ric picked her up from school and we three went to a local diner for early supper.

Able to read her own menu now, her eyes lit up at the sight of her favourite beverage. No vegetables touched her plate that night, a sin her mother is sure to scold me about, but in light of the day I’d had, I just wanted to soak in her joy.

Afterwards, we drove around to see the Christmas lights and then home for some television, a snuggle, and bed. All pretty low key.

“Staying at Grandma’s is so so fun!” she told her sister when they came to pick her up the next morning. “You get treats, and to stay up late.”

Don’t worry Mom, she didn’t even finish the hot chocolate.

As for me – my cup was overflowing.

(Thursdays I dedicate to celebrating the blessings in my life, which often translates to sharing Grandma stories. Can’t help it. They are the best, through my eyes.)

Beauty To Be Found

The seasonal cold hit our house this week, and not wishing to share it, I locked myself in with mugs of lemon and honey.

An ice storm blasted Sunday, so we were happy to stay put. Ice and compromised balance do not blend well. Then, before the ice could melt, it snowed. Another good day to stay indoors.

On the third day, after some much needed sleep, I decided that my lungs could use fresh air, so I snuck out early armed with camera.

Signs of the ice storm were still visible.

Our rural landscape transformed into a misty monochrome dream. I drove with the windows down, inhaling the crisp air, listening for birdsong. Chickadees, Downy Woodpeckers, and Blue Jays flit between the barren trees and tall pines. Too quick for my lens, but the company lifted my spirits.

Stopping on a bridge, I captured this wintry scene, marvelling at the clarity of reflection on the frigid water’s surface.

I’ve been dreading the onset of winter months, something we have avoided for the past three years. Now that I have discovered the pleasure of photography, I am looking forward to the discovery that lies ahead.

Beauty really is to be found in all moments. I am grateful for that.

A Blessed Thaw

Recent activity coupled with the onset of a cold, has my body begging for more rest, but the sun is shining and a sudden mild spell has melted the snow, and my camera is begging.

Ric, whose man cold surpasses mine, hunkers in with a box of Kleenex and his flannel pjs. I’m on my own.

I take my walker and head for the trestle bridge. Judging by the loud chorus of geese, they are also enjoying the day.

A young man and his toddler pass me on the path. He’s loaded down with binoculars and fancy camera equipment.

I raise my lens to capture a chickadee and he chirps: “Just a chickadee. We spotted a fox sparrow, and now I’m on the hunt for a Snow Goose.”

Suddenly, I’m feeling very amateur, but he means well. They move along quickly, and I carry on at my snail’s pace. By the time I reach the bridge, they have stopped again, the young man very excited.

“Do you see it?” He points at a field, across the river, where hoards of geese gather and hands me his binoculars.

A snow goose. I am only able to capture this grainy image.

They move on and I snap a few pictures and head back, pleased with myself that I’ve made the effort.

Now home to rest.

(Thursdays is my day of gratitude.)

Inked Blessings

It began simply enough; I just wanted to draw a simple Christmas tree, but the lines went a little crazy and well…you can see the result. The pen had a mind of its own, so I decided to let it talk.

Trees with character started to emerge, and began to haunt my dreams.

Christmas trees will have to wait….I am otherwise occupied.

Bricks and Stone

Our town’s quaintness is derived from the stone buildings, sourced from the local limestone quarry.

As magnificent as these historic buildings are, I understand they are hard to heat in winter months.

Our winters, in southwestern Ontario, Canada, can be harsh. I am grateful for modern materials like clay bricks, and of course, insulation, that keep us safe and cosy inside our homes.

(For Cee’s Black & White Photo Challenge: bricks and stone)

Friends are Blessings

Over brunch, my new acquaintance and I discover we have a lot in common – both former teachers, interested in art and poetry, with a love birds. She is just getting back into life after a long stint of caring for a sick husband, who died a year ago. I am finding my footing in a new town, after years of my own isolation.

The friendship feels natural, and when we meet up again at the next poetry circle, we make more plans.

For most of my life, I have felt like the lone bird, perched below the gathered flock, wondering why I’m left out. A loner, is how I described myself in high school – a cover for shame and never feeling good enough.

I’m too old for all that self-deprecation nonsense now. I am an adult women who needs relationships.

So these days, I am letting my guard down, and giving thanks for the friends in my life – old and new.

Connection, after all, is what the heart craves.

Autumn Blessings

Pre-camera years, I bemoaned the arrival of Autumn as Winter’s harbinger. The lens, however, has the magical ability to transform one’s perceptions. Suddenly, I have new appreciation for golden forests, and white flowers lingering against a backdrop of fallen leaves:

Even the robin, typically associated with the onset of Spring, exudes new charm amid the oranges of this inspiring season.

(For Nancy Merrill’s A Photo A Week Challenge: open topic.)

Doodle Blessings

To keep learning is a blessing. This week, I signed up for a sketching workshop, with no idea what to expect. Turns out we were learning the art of meditative doodling, trademarked as Zentangle.

The featured image I created in class. I thought it would be fun to do my granddaughter’s initial. This is where I’ve gotten to so far.

Ric immediately went out and bought me more pens, so the addiction is now full blown.