The Clarity of Cold

The view from my deck this morning.

The view from my deck this morning.

Winter isn’t my favorite season. If it only lasted from December 1st to say, January 15th I’d probably love it but alas it seems to last 6 months in Upstate NY. I don’t ski, snowboard or snowshoe. I don’t think anyone would ever describe me as a snow bunny. I’ll go out and play in the snow with my girls and I enjoy that. The first snowfall of December and the promise of a white Christmas is lovely too. Otherwise I feel like snow’s main goal is to keep me huddled inside under a blanket, covered with animals.

The first real snowfall of the season started falling here last night. By morning there was a thin blanket of white across the landscape. Jazzmin was ecstatic to frolic in it and sniff snort through it trying to find familiar scents in the grass beneath. Jordan thought it was pretty but too cold. Jaycie was very excited to see the snow and wanted to play in it but with wind chills in the teens this morning, she changed her mind. I was happy I’d already dug out my winter boots and coat so I wouldn’t slip down my deck steps on the way out to the bus stop.

Today was one of those confused winter days where it was sunny one moment then snowing and blowing the next. Mama Nature was having fun shaking her snow globe today! None of the new snow accumulated though and the skies cleared enough to reveal a rather pretty sky after the sun set. Even so, I admit that the sudden presence of snow made me a bit grumpy.

When I took Jazz out for the last time tonight, I stepped onto my deck steps, looked up and was greeted by the sight of the half-moon. A smile immediately lit my face and in the clarity of cold and moonlight, my mood instantly lifted. It was as if the moon was telling me that everything will be okay, that even in the darkness and cold, light is always shining. Sometimes even I forget that but thankfully the powers that be are kind enough to remind me.

winter moon

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Nature’s Artwork

I am imperfect. Everyone is. Yet every day I see commercials advertising beauty products and fitness programs to help men and women achieve perfection. Chasing dreams is one thing, striving for the impossible is ridiculous.

I have a great appreciation for nature. Nature is beautiful without even trying. The blazing sunrise, the changing leaves, the churning clouds, the glow of sunset. Beautiful without trying to be perfect. Nature just is what it is and if you don’t stop to see that, you’re missing out.

This past Monday morning started out beautiful with a pink cast to the clouds as the sun made its journey to rise over the hills. The sun shone ever so briefly before the dark clouds of the rapidly approaching cold front blocked it out. That contrast of darkness and light was stunning to behold. Nature wasn’t trying to impress me by puffing up its chest or slathering on makeup for a perfect complexion. Nature was just doing what it does.

I managed to take Jazzmin on a short walk as the front blew in and dropped the mild morning temperatures down 10 degrees. We walked into a field and to the top of the hill to get a better view of the dark clouds. I snapped a picture of Jazz with the turbulent sky as the backdrop and to my amazement, my camera phone captured the colors perfectly.

Jazzmin and the sky

Jazzmin and the sky

Later that evening after the rain had come and gone, I went out into the yard with my daughters to enjoy the last of the day. While we were outside I saw a monarch fly by and was surprised when he landed in one of my back pine trees. I’ve never seen a monarch do that before. He stayed on one branch for a long time and Jordan was nice enough to fetch my camera for me. I took several pictures of him and he stayed still until the very last one when I turned the flash on. He opened his wings just as the picture snapped and then flew higher into the tree and out of sight.

Monarch up in my pine tree

Monarch up in my pine tree

As I write this the sky is ablaze with orange, red, pink and blue. Another breathtaking autumn sunset in what has been a true season to treasure. There is just a sliver of the moon in the sky and brush strokes of clouds. Nothing compares to nature’s artwork and she always pulls it off effortlessly.

After the Storm

It rained most of the day today but shortly before the sun set I saw its glow lighting my front trees. Curious to see how the sky looked after all the rain, I took Jazz outside and saw a full rainbow stretching across the eastern sky. It was still raining as I looked at it but I didn’t really mind.

I chased a rainbow once and it led me where I wanted to be but perhaps not at the right time. That journey served a purpose though and proved to me that there is always light after the storm. Sometimes rainbows shine in that light. Sometimes the storm clouds don’t part until the night and then its up to the moon and stars to shine. And sometimes the storm doesn’t pass until the next day and the light is the rising sun. But the light always returns, you just need to know when and where to look.

Sharing the Sky

When I looked out my front door this morning the Harvest Moon was still visible in the sky. The sun hadn’t risen over the hills yet but the sky was getting brighter. There wasn’t a cloud to be seen and all the stars were hidden in the growing daylight. Those are usually the quietest moments of the morning and I enjoy them while they last.

As I waited for the bus with Jordan shortly before 7 a.m., the moon was still visible. It was lower than earlier and I knew it would be out of sight within a half hour. I took several pictures of it as I stood in the middle of the road. It was a beautiful warm morning, perhaps the last of its kind for a while. Jordan got on the bus to middle school and I went back inside the house to be with Jaycie until her bus came.

By the time Jaycie’s bus arrived the sun had risen over the hills and the moon was no longer visible. I think the sun and moon shared the sky briefly this morning and I wondered if they engaged in conversation or exchanged longing looks. The entire day was amazingly beautiful and picturesque and I bet the sun wished the moon was there to share it with her.

Sharing the sky with the sun today and keeping her company were a variety of lovely creatures. I saw several small butterflies, a couple of monarchs, my resident hummingbird, a handful of dragonflies and of course the usual gatherings of songbirds. I’m sure the sun knows how lucky she is to be able to see all the creatures of the world as it turns. Yet I wonder if she is always trying to look a bit further, up a bit higher, around that curve…in search of the moon.

Chasing Moonlight

I believe in magic. Life would be stale, lifeless and dull if magic didn’t exist. I see magic in everyday events and I always feel magic when I look at the moon. No matter what phase the moon is in, the moment I see it I feel mystical powers at work.

Tonight as the moon rose in the east while the sun set in the west I began to wonder. What if the sun loves the moon? Is it filled with longing as the moon stays just out of reach? Does it wonder what the moon is hiding on its dark side? When the moon and sun share the sky do they tell each other stories about everything they’ve seen? Does the sun wonder why the moon grows quiet when they’re far apart? Is the sun worried the mystical, shadowed moon finds the constant, bright glow of the sun boring? Does the sun long to feel the cool night air and to experience the excitement of the darkness the moon so often dwells in? Does the moon ever long for the sun?

I can wonder all this but the answers are a mystery to me. The romance between the sun and moon is undoubtedly a complicated relationship if it exists. Perhaps the romance began with the thrill of the chase. I imagine the sun is sad if she feels like she’s always chasing moonlight only to be forgotten in the darkness.

Jukebox Jazzmin and the Snake Saver!

View of the moon during one of our walks

View of the moon during one of our walks

Even with a pup as energetic as my Jazzmin, it can be difficult to find the motivation to go out and walk when it’s 80+ degrees out. When it was a bit cooler last week I had no trouble at all taking Jazz for two walks a day, one in the morning and one in the afternoon or evening. In the heat and humidity, my enthusiasm wains. Jazz is really good at giving me the puppy dog eyes to guilt me into walking but considering she does that even after I’ve taken her on two nice, long walks, the power of those pathetic brown eyes diminishes.

It’s then up to me to find some other good motivation to get my rear in gear. That’s where music comes in. Before I adopted Jazz, I’d always listen to music on my walks with one earbud in. I stopped doing that though because even one earbud made it hard to hear traffic over hills. Last week I discovered the perfect solution: turn Jazzmin into a jukebox! No I didn’t equip her with tweeters and subwoofers (haha, doggy humor there) or use duct tape to strap a boombox on her back. Instead, I tucked my phone into the top section of her backpack and played my music through its little speaker. It works amazingly well and gives Jazz and I a great, upbeat tempo to walk to!

Jazzmin with my phone tucked into her backpack

Jazzmin with my phone tucked into her backpack

My favorite genres of music lately are Reggaeton and Latin pop. I imagine my country neighbors find it peculiar hearing Spanish singers blasting from the back of my dog, but oh well. On our walk last night, we turned a corner just as a car pulled up to the intersection. I had my back to the intersection but I heard the car pull away strangely slowly so I turned around to find the young male teenage driver staring at us out his open window as he drove down the road. He really wasn’t looking where he was going so he was obviously highly curious. I rolled my eyes in amusement and turned back around to continue our walk. My country neighborhood just isn’t equipped to deal with unique ladies like Jazz and I.

Jazz and I also did a bit of animal rescue last night on our walk. Apparently it’s the time of year for snakes to cross the road as I’d found the remains of one on our previous walk. I like snakes, especially the one living near my shed that I’ve named Jammy. The dead snake I’d seen in the road was a smaller version of Jammy so seeing that had made me sad. Thankfully last night I was given a chance to save another snake from the same fate. This little guy was almost to the middle of the road so I stepped up slowly to him and coached him across the road. I’m sure he was scared of me but I’d much rather scare him across the road than have him end up under the tires of a car. I even manged to catch our rescue on video! Don’t watch it if you’re not fond of snakes because it’ll probably make you twitch.

As you can see, our walk adventures are never-ending! We walk the same roads but there’s always something new to see. I truly enjoy having the time to savor it all now and despite her attempts to convince others how neglected she is, I know Jazzmin is loving the extra walks!