Smile and the world smiles with you

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I have the benefit of generally waking up “on the right side of the bed”, as my mother used to say.  It is a rare day that I wake up in anything other than a good mood.

The sun usually shines in through my curtainless window.  I am greeted by the face of my loving dog and the world feels like it is waiting to greet me with the same happy mood.

When I looked across my front lawn yesterday morning, I was greeted by these two smiling faces.  Randomly created by the snowfall, these faces adorned the back of the Muskoka chair that sits on the edge of my lawn anxiously awaiting the appearance of Spring.

How can you not smile back when the world smiles at you first?

 

Under a winter sky

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Dusk descends.  The deep blue of the night sky edges its way into darkness and evening begins to fall.  Stars mottle the nightscape and any heat the earth consumed during the day is slowly released back into that vast open space.  The long spindly finger of Old Man Winter begins to caress the world and the cold enters everything it touches. Trees snap and groan in their defiance of the stinging night air and animals have long since retired to the protection of their dens.

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The smallest portion of exposed skin is ambushed by the cold and is threatened by the gnawing jaws of frost bite.  It hurts to breathe but the beauty of a cold winter night is unparalleled.  The sky seems anxious to introduce every star in the milky way without the intrusion of clouds and the silence is deafening.

This is my winter.  These are the nights that I am drawn into the cold for the sole purpose of watching the stars put the sun to bed for another night.  I tilt my head back to take in the constellations and wait for a shooting star.  This is life in my Northern town.  This is the pastel portrait that saturates my brain before I go to sleep.

Which side of the road should the chicken be on?

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It is almost November and the weather is going to great lengths to remind us of the impending torture of unpredictable temperatures and precipitation for the next thirty plus days.  Today was a glowing example of that.  The remnants of Hurricane Patricia swirled hungrily around our little town and brought with them the feeling of doom that always precedes winter.  The rain fell sideways and the South West wind systematically unzipped our coats to leave us feeling exposed to the elements.

On my drive home from work, watching the storm-laden sky become even darker, I could think of nothing more than crawling into a cave of blankets in my living room and allowing myself to succumb to the heat that would soon be escaping from my baseboard heaters.  The thought of having to cook a full dinner did not impress me at all so I visited the grocery store and purchased a warm, fragrant pre-roasted chicken.

There is nothing better than comfort food on a cold, grey night.  The pungent smell of the chicken permeated my kitchen as I boiled some potatoes and made a somewhat deconstructed stuffing.  Onions and celery were left to saute with some bacon as the potatoes were mashed into submission.  I usually love to add some flare to the presentation of my meals, but comfort food speaks loudly and needs neither pomp nor circumstance to assert its message.

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The food was delicious.  My heaters obliged by taking the chill out of the air but the meal lacked a certain something.  I love my solitude.  I enjoy my own company and I have several friends, one close friend in particular, who admire me for being so content on my own.  But my “Thrifty Thursday” Chicken (as the store labelled it), my mashed potatoes and bread-less stuffing would have tasted much better had I been able to share it with someone special.

There is much to be said about living on your own.  That privilege of freedom defines gratitude better than a thousand dictionaries.  But the joy of being in a room with someone who helps accentuate your happiness is immeasurable.  Whether those moments are shared in silence or lost in a cacophony of laughter and endless conversation, those are the moments that create memories.  And those are the moments that can sometimes make solitude feel a little more like loneliness.

 

Eternal optimism while staring at your balls

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There is a local golf course that is always the first one to open every season.  They even have a count down sign on the highway so driver’s passing by can share their enthusiasm for the start of golf season. It is a nice reminder, a beacon of hope that lurking under the mounds of snow lie tiny blades of grass waiting to be kissed by the warm, Spring sun.

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I drove by that sign today and the magic number on the sign is 25 days to golf.  I almost drove off the road I was laughing so hard.  As I collected myself, I began to scan my surroundings.  Mounds of snow still shroud anything that may slightly resemble a golf course and the temperature on my car thermometer was -12C.

Maybe the optimism of the course owner is misguided.  Perhaps he knows something the rest of us do not.  But I’m willing to bet that the sign proudly stating golf season will start in 25 days will say the same thing 25 days from now!

Rabbits and lions and lambs….oh my

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As it is with every first day of the month I will have awoken, most likely at 3:45 am because that is a new and inescapable routine, and hopefully remembered to repeat the phrase “white rabbit” three times before I uttered any other words.  It is a long-standing family tradition and one that is meant to bring luck for the following month.

Today is not only the first of the month, but it is the first of March which brings Spring closer to reality.  After the winter we have just experienced, and still are experiencing,  Spring will be a very welcome companion.  The mercury is predicted to begin rising and the sun will have some warmth in its shine.   I have already begun preparations for my tanning session on the deck and, even if I am fully covered in snow gear, I am going to enjoy every ounce of Vitamin D I can extract from that fire-ball during the high temperature of -5C.

Tanning in the early months of February and March is a family tradition I cannot seem to part with.  When I was a child, we would spend hours in lawn chairs on the frozen lake and absorb all of the goodness from the sun.  There is no better feeling than the first real heat of a Spring day and having those rays welcomed by an eager face.

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This year, I am unsure as to whether the arrival of Spring will be classified as coming in like a lamb, or coming in like a lion.  After the harsh winter and bitter winds we have experienced, it will certainly feel like a lamb, but having March temperatures still hovering around -15 C may classify the entrance into this new month as coming in like a lion.

Groundhog’s shadow or not, Spring is coming.  I just hope it gets here before the rabbits, the lion and the lamb all freeze their asses off!

Things are not always what they seem

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As the nights began to get colder and the days grew shorter, a non-conforming sparrow decided not to fly South for the winter. The winds shifted, the snow began to fly and the mercury dropped to frigid levels.  Realizing the decision not to go South was horribly wrong, the sparrow reluctantly began its journey to a warmer climate.

The elements exploded from the winter sky and battered the poor bird.  Soon ice began to form on its tiny wings and the sparrow could no longer remain in flight.  The wind and snow volleyed the bird in mid-air and the sparrow fell to the Earth, landing in a barnyard.  Its heartbeat was weak and the sparrow faced the inevitability of freezing to death in the vast expanse of farm land.

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No sooner had the bird given in to its undeniable fate, when a cow wandered dangerously close to the dying bird, lifted its tail and crapped on the sparrow.  Stunned by the irony of being shit on while it slowly died, the bird began to feel warm.  The heat from the cow patty was melting the frost and the bird began to feel its heart pounding stronger and stronger with each beat.

With growing warmth and a sudden optimism, the bird began to sing.  It celebrated its narrow escape of impending death.  It basked in the glory of being to continue its journey South and it laughed in the face of fate itself.

The sparrow’s song grew so loud that the bird did not hear the approach of the feral barn cat.  Investigating the sounds, the cat circled the bird and pounced, clearing the cow patty and carrying the now deceased bird back to its lair for a late supper.

There are lessons to be learned from every story.  Everyone who shits on you is not necessarily your enemy.  Everyone who gets you out of shit is not necessarily your friend and if you are warm and happy in a pile of shit, keep your mouth shut.

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This was a joke I remember hearing when I was in high school.  I embellished a bit (no surprise there) but I think the lessons are still worthy of sharing.