Frozen temps and snow
do not stop
even the scrawniest of plants
for the sun.
Frozen temps and snow
do not stop
even the scrawniest of plants
for the sun.
It’s snowing now. Trees sway in bellowing winds. Hazardous forecasts have appeared for days, maybe even a week, I’m not sure. I try to tune most of it out. Heck, I just returned from a reprieve in 80 degree Jamaica. The northeast grey and cold I so easily left behind hasn’t yet set in. It’s usually a good 10 days before my neck reacts like a telephone pole, the abundant warmth still clutching my bones.
e-mail warnings hailed my return, “Sounds like we’re getting a snowstorm this weekend. Not sure exactly what areas, but something is brewing.” “Well the storm that was South of us did not hit this past weekend, but there’s something coming. Weather reports are looking ahead at potential snow for Sunday.”
Alerts surge like the Caribbean waves that soothed me a week ago. A foot of snow they say. Or more. Ice. Single digits. The utility company cautions customers about possible power outages and demands patience. If the electric goes out there will be no heat, or plumbing for that matter. No lights, no frig. Sub zero temps threaten to freeze pipes. Frenzy is in the air but I’m not gripped with worry. I’m still riding those warming trade winds and Jamaican blue skies.
I disconnected from the incessant media hype a few years ago when they sensationalized simple thunderstorms. It was just too much. Even the silent Web catastrophizes with headlines like “Big Ice Threat,” “Snowstorm Lurking,” “Dangerously Cold,” “Emergency Measures in Place for Weekend Weather…” Who writes this stuff? Being prepared is one thing but our culture seems addicted to worry. No wonder anxiety is the most common mental illness in the U.S., affecting 40 million persons age 18 and older (and one in 20 children). And now we have weather anxiety?!
The good news is, we have a choice. I use to plan my day around the forecast to best work with Mother Nature. Now, I look out the window. It’s snowing. I’m prepared. Really important news always finds its way to me without my tuning in to the constant drone of fear. I’m stocked with the staple eggs and milk that neighbors run to the stores for in times such as these. If the power goes out, I have candles and matches…long underwear, heavy socks, gloves, a hat and warm coat. Plow trucks salt and clear the roads.
Oh what to do. Just be prepared. Turn off the noise and tune in to the quiet. Let go as easily as the gently falling snow. Last week I listened to rhythmic waves on Seven Mile Beach. From an expanse of sand to an expanse of snow, it’s all just a moment in time.
Starring the close of each year and darkest, darkest night, the Poinsettia’s striking winter appearance hails worldwide wishes of generosity and good cheer.
Rooted around miracles and the power of love, Mexican legend paints a heartwarming story around the Poinsettia. While details vary, it’s essentially about a meager child having nothing to offer the baby Jesus except some roadside weeds. Once placed on the Christmas Eve altar, however, they miraculously transformed into brilliant red and green flowers. Can you imagine witnessing the unfolding of such beauty, like the ugly duckling turned swan, or springtime buds bursting into bloom? You know, it’s how your heart feels when overflowing with love. How you feel when giving (or receiving) from the heart.
Exemplifying the giving season, Poinsettias achieved stardom once sold under the botanical name Euphorbia Pulcherrima. Nearly 70 million plants now sell from Thanksgiving to Christmas, generating $250 million in sales.
The Poinsettia garners its name for world traveler, botanist and diplomat, Joel Roberts Poinsett. He introduced the plant to the U.S. in the early 1800s after falling in love with it near Taxco Mexico.
Today, more than 100 varieties of Poinsettias range from burgundy to red, salmon to apricot, yellow to cream and white, and solid to marbled, not to mention the dyed blue and purple ones or those speckled with glitter.
The United States commemorates December 12th, the date of Poinsett’s death, as National Poinsettia Day.
As much as I love gardening, and can rarely bear discarding any broken plant stems (several cuttings are rooting on my windowsill now), I admit I never gave Poinsettia’s their proper care. Sure, I didn’t toss them after the holidays when their bracts (often called flowers) fell, and a few hung around awhile as green house plants, but I didn’t keep them in total darkness so they would turn red for the holidays next year — a process Certified Nursery Consultant, Rick LaVasseur calls photoperiodism. A process I call a miracle if I remember to do it.
Also known as the Christmas Eve Flower or Flowers of the Holy Night, some Christians symbolize the plant’s shape as the Star of Bethlehem which guided the Wise Men to Jesus, and the red color as the blood of Christ.
The meaning of the Pointsettia reflects standard Christmas and New Year wishes for Joy, Love and Hope – my universal wish for the coming year.
God gave me a memory so that I may have roses in December. But, I have the Poinsettia too.
What do you think about when you think about squirrels? Ravaged bird feeders? Acrobatic acts? Rabies? The park? Nuts? Well, yes, nuts. That also comes to mind when I think about the December holidays.
Not just the type of nuts we eat — like roasted chestnuts, walnuts on that sumptuous apple pie, or honey coated peanuts in the snack dish, but nuts as in gathering frantically like a squirrel, and nuts as in foolishly excessive holiday behaviors. It’s a bountiful season for sure, but will it fill us up or leave us feeling exhausted, robbed and empty?
Filling Up More than Stockings
Each of us can choose to step back and celebrate in simpler, more meaningful ways. You can create a holiday celebration of choice and one that enriches, rather than depletes, you or loved ones — physically, emotionally, and financially. Take time to think about what Christmas really means to you.
Do your actions make sense? Do they seem a little nuts to you? Be honest.
If you own a bird feeder, you’ve witnessed a squirrel’s analytical creativity accessing it — including those supposedly “squirrel proof” feeders. Be as innovative.
If others are involved, ask each person to select the one thing about the holidays that makes their heart sing. Avoid the inner critic’s beleaguering to add just one more thing then another because you’ll be right back to the overload you tried to lighten. Determine what is absolutely necessary then sew those pieces together to broaden smiling faces around a more joyful holiday. You may be pleasantly surprised to discover it’s not a holiday of lack but one of overflowing abundance from the spirit within.
Apply Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh‘s sentiment to the holidays… “Once you identify your deepest intention, you have a chance to be true to yourself, to celebrate the kind of holiday you’d like to have, and to be the kind of person you’d like to be.”
Trudging through Tradition
Several years ago I happily exchanged some traditional activities for what means most to me. Quieter gatherings, tuning in to nature and the gifts she generously offers day in and out, gladden my spirit. (This is not to say I don’t host or attend holiday parties. But I keep them manageable, not falling prey to Madison Avenue’s message that I must decorate my house with a thousand lights, bake cookies, and overextend my bank account purchasing lavish gifts.)
A friend, looking frazzled and slumped in her chair, told me yesterday how overwhelmed she felt filling out 300 Christmas cards! Three hundred cards? Who wouldn’t feel overwhelmed? But, was it really necessary? It’s important to connect with others and tell them how much they mean to us but if it adds a layer of stress it doesn’t make sense to me — it’s nuts.
All in a Nutshell
Make the holidays what you want them to be and create cherished memories. Don’t worry or fret. Otherwise you may become like the red squirrel whose coat turned grey from stress. 🙂
December often conjures up complaints about the cold, snow shoveling, and dangers of falling on ice, but just as often I am awestruck by winter’s beauty contrasted against a backdrop of barren starkness. And so is life. One is necessary for the other.
So, rather than more of the usual holiday hype for this month, I’m focusing instead on Mother Nature’s vivid gifts. What comes to your mind this season…?
And a time to rest.
The frozen pond
and ice encrusted grass.
Last year’s leaf
frozen between time.
Piled high snow conceals the beginning of what we cannot yet see — seeds, bulbs, and leaves busily working behind the scenes, preparing to come alive and burst forth in spring.
Not knowing yet what lies ahead, time is endless — one long stretch of a simple moment. All the while winter whispers to us, “Stay present. Have faith. This too shall pass.”
When efforts feel stalled — like nothing is happening as we take baby step by baby step in the direction of our dreams — think of winter.
Gradually receding snow slides back the covers of change. Be patient. Stay true to course. The next thing we know, winter has become spring and all right before our eyes.
There’s only 701 hours or 42060 minutes until spring! 29 days. Yes, I know. People tell me not to rush my life away. I don’t think I am, really. Just wishing to rush passed the frigid temps and ice we’ve had for the last few months.
I’d happily linger in spring, not rushing away a single minute. But, the older I get the colder I get. And after a few months of oppressively grey, gloomy skies I’m craving sunshine, warmth and spring’s freshness. I’ve been admonished before that I hurry up to wait. Well, truth be told, yes, I’d like to hurry up spring so I can wait and lavish its lushness.