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Posts Tagged ‘Winter’

Lately it’s been a bit of a challenge to settle down to write a post. Whether due to lack of time or lack of brain, I have been remiss. But yesterday, I couldn’t help but be inspired.

When I went out to get my mail, my friend across the street was coming out as well. We stopped and chatted for a while in the road, both amazed at the sunny, balmy 56˚ weather. But alas, there was work on my desk and I needed to go back in, balmy or not. At my computer, I looked out the window at the sun streaming onto my back porch. Certainly going a mere 15′ from my Mac wouldn’t really be absconding from work, would it?

I looked down, over the porch railing, and saw an array of amazing textures and light. Just last week, it had been -1˚ in the morning, and these warm temps were resulting in a momentary thaw and so many abstract visions. I grabbed my camera and took some photos because … well, I needed to.

Melting ice was beginning to stream into the yard, and there were a few bright berries left on the bushes.

The twisted base of one of the hydrangeas defied a sense of scale; I could be looking down into a canyon …

or watching a snowy river rush by.

The intricate patterns of nature are stunning even in their most dormant stages. Sometimes even more so.

And then I really needed to get back to work.

 

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Back when I lived in the city, walking about Manhattan, there was a very good reason to look up. Gargoyles. Fabulous gargoyles. Bumping into people on the street, apologizing, face-to-the-sky, gargoyles. New York is full of them and they’re all over the place. However, this post is not about gargoyles … maybe someday … but another reason for looking up. Icicles.

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The recent 6 – 8″ of snow we had recently, followed by a drop to 4˚ at night, followed by a day of brilliant sunshine has these 2 and 3 foot daggers hanging off roofs everywhere. And although today was kind of cloudy, kind of sunny, I thought to photograph a few because I believe this is the last we’ll be seeing them until next winter.

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Neither the main roof nor those of the porches on this house have gutters, which may be why there are so many icicles, I’m not sure, but what I do know is that when you walk around certain parts of the house, you best be looking up and stepping lively. Periodically during the day, you can hear them crashing outside the windows, just waiting for an unsuspecting soul to walk by.

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Witness a few misses to the side of my house, the walkway where I come and go daily. Of course, there’s also a sheet of ice to navigate as well. Ahhhh – winter!

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Having taken that photo, I became more interested in the textures created by the ice and snow around the house, often so beautiful as to look like abstract art. I peered over my back porch railing where the ice was dripping into the snow. Icicles were breaking and melting around the hydrangea, as eager for spring as we, I suspect.

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And then, the last of the roses, encased in ice, also surrounded by broken icicles.

I could have gone around the whole property photographing these icy textures once I began, but such is not my day. These brightened my artistic soul, maybe yours, too.

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Where am I?

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I’ll tell you how I feel – kind of lost. It seems like this Winter is just going to go on forever. And by the scarcity of posts by the fellow bloggers I know, I dare say that I am not alone. Of course, there may be other reasons, but a great deal has been written about the effect of weather such as we’ve been having on the human soul/psyche. Speaking for myself, the endless rounds of snow every few days and the concomitant shoveling plus the record lows in temperature such as I have never seen in my lifetime conspire to keep me, (and possibly you), indoors. Add to that, those of us who work from home and you have the perfect scenario for a serious case of the Winter blues and blahs.

Buddha2I suspect many of you, like myself, are looking for ways to brighten these 9˚ days. Getting out for even a breath of fresh air is always good, as is curling up with a good book, or watching some decent movie or TV. Each day when I journal, (a mood-lifter for me), I also look for some spiritual/metaphysical thoughts to pull me back into my more inspired self. Today I remembered this (favorite) quote from Buddha: “All that we are is the result of what we have thought.”

I am reminded that I am creating my day on every level and that my thoughts and feelings affect the energetic level of the planet itself. I searched a little further.

From The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley: “For this is the great secret, which was known to all educated men in our day: that by what men think, we create the world around us, daily new.”

 

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Now, while I’m not yet bursting with boundless joy, at least I am smiling, happy and more content. I am remembering that Spring will come in time, and that there is still plenty of beauty in every moment of the day that is here, right now.

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Soup-CloseUp2Actually, to me, almost any winter day is a soup day, but it’s been way too long since I’ve made a big pot of homemade soup. I think about it; sometimes I even buy the ingredients, but end up using them for something that takes less time. Sometimes I’m sure I’m going to make the soup at the end of the work day, and that never happens. So, today, (Sunday), I just got started earlier. My soup? A (vegan) Russian Potato and Bean Soup.

I’d been looking and looking among my many cookbook and recipe sources and wasn’t finding what I wanted. Then I remembered – and was staring right at it! – that I had this great recipe box from years ago from Vegetarian Times. It was a freebie for taking a subscription, I think. There are nice little divider sections and each group is color coded, as you can see below. Definitely a handy item to have.

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They had so many yummy soup recipes, and I picked this one. It was already vegan except for the sour cream, and I had a plan for that.

I used all organic produce, and scrubbed and cubed some nice Russet potatoes, thin-sliced some onions, trimmed the green beans, and got ready to cook. I used Imagine brand vegetarian “No-Chicken Broth” which is quite tasty. The recipe called for 5 cups of broth, and this broth comes in quart containers, but, aha! I have a fabulous vegetable base for making soups, and I whipped up a cup of that.

Soup-InPot2

The basic soup ready to bring to a boil.

I sautéed the onions in the broth and a teaspoon of canola oil, then added the potatoes and beans for a bit. I added the rest of the broth, brought to a boil and simmered for 1/2 hour.

The next addition was a mixture of 1/3 cup of sour cream mixed with 2 T. of flour. I had some concerns here because I had vegan sour cream, which has a tofu base, and I wasn’t really sure how that would work out. The recipe asks that you add the mixture to the soup by the spoonful and blend in. Here’s where, if you’re not vegan, I’d go with real sour cream; if you are, go with the time-honored way of blending some of the stock with the flour separately and then mixing it back into the main pot. That’s what I’ll do in the future. Add in 3/4 cup of sauerkraut, 1 T. of dried dill and simmer another 15 minutes. While you’re invited to add seasonings at the end, I found the sauerkraut and dill provided plenty of flavor on their own.

Soup-InBowl2

Bon appétit!

The recipe for this soup is not available on the Vegetarian Times website, however, I did a search and found it on another site. If interested, here’s the recipe — enjoy!

 

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If you live anywhere in the swath of the recent and impending snowstorms that we have been having/will soon have, I know what you’re really saying, as am I, not Let It Snow, but Let It Stop.

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The other night I heard the weatherman on TV saying to “Embrace the cold.” I’m having a hard time with that as it just keeps on coming … and with snow and ice. But he has a point. Shaking our fists at the skies doesn’t change a thing, so we do best to try and settle into peaceful acceptance.
And with that, came a few photos of said snow.

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And even after the snowiest day, once the sky clears, it’s still great to have your laundry smelling fresh.

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LineWorkers2Something I heard on the radio really jumped out at me this morning. A dockworker called in to the show I listen to, talking about the men who work all night long loading and unloading cargo containers, right next to the frigid waters, making it even colder. In this part of the world we are experiencing the coldest temperatures we’ve seen in three years, and while we sit warm at our desks or run errands in our heated cars, lots of folk are out there in this making their living.

I thought today to give a shout out to all those who work outside in these freezing temperatures, so here’s my thanks – and I’m sure I speak for all of us – to: line workers and those who keep our heat, electricity, phones and cell phones working; dockworkers and truckers who keep everything we need coming and going; police, fire and EMT personnel who are out whenever duty calls, school crossing guards, animal control officers who rescue animals from freezing to death; health care workers who make sure the elderly and incapacitated have heat and food; mail carriers; delivery people; construction crews; and anyone I may have missed.

Thanks for keeping our world safe and moving along.

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It’s about now, towards the end of January and all through February … and OK, through much of March … that seem to be the longest months. Despite the fact that the days are getting longer, the sun rising earlier and there now being light at 5 p.m., it feels like the darkest part of the year. Some call it the Winter blues or the Winter blahs.

The holidays are over, and for those of us who don’t care about football there’s not much exciting going on … just a wait until Spring. So I remind myself, that even though it’s cold there, too, there is still phenomenal beauty around us. Somewhere, (in this case, Canada), the aurora borealis is dancing ….

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And somewhere, here Hawaii, the sun is bright and the water is calling.

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And somewhere, right in our own hearts and homes, there is still warmth and love and creativity and reason to celebrate the winter. Whether it’s curled up by a fire or in front of the TV, making a pot of soup or doing a jigsaw with the family, each day is new and holds the promise of some small wonder. We’re called upon, as always, to be in the present, and not spend our time waiting for something to come. It’s already here.

Open the door and welcome it in.

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Winter Sunset

“Your eyes register only a limited degree of the creative vibration that makes up everything in creation … Those persons who have perceptive eyes enjoy beauty everywhere.” – Paramahansa Yogananda

 

(Thanks to my friend, Pat, for sharing this lovely quote.)

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Although I wrote this poem December 4 and had made a few edits, I intended to tighten it up further and submit it before the deadline to children’s book author David Harrison’s blog. He has a poetry contest each month, writing to a specific topic. December’s was “Bones.” I’m guessing with the holidays, my intentions got lost in the shuffle as I missed the deadline, so I’m posting it here. If interested, David’s topic for January is “Time.”

BONES

In violet, indigo and dusky blue,
they shadow their bones
across silver snow
in the sharp morning sun.

They bare their essence
and nod in silence
to admiring passersby.

Standing tall
in their most primitive selves
they are visions
of grace and pride.

I am Oak.
I am Ash.
I am Poplar.

Soon enough
Spring will come
cloaking their branches in
effusive greens,
in camouflage,
and playful disarray.

But for winter …

I am my bones.

Jeanne Balsam
December 2009

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