This morning as I was reading an article in the paper that was using terms such as, “bleak midwinter,” and “dog days of winter,” I was struck by the distance that we have placed between winter and ourselves, and the loss involved. Outside, meanwhile, in the real world, the morning mist had wrapped itself around the farm in a soft embrace leaving room for little more than the dogs and me as we skied back into the fields. Where only a week ago we had braced against -29 degrees with a numbing wind, this morning had all the softness of spring. “How,” I wondered, “could anyone fail to appreciate the intimacy of nature?”
When Canadians deny winter, they deny themselves because in winter lie all of the traditions that make us who we are. After all, we are the country of toboggans and snowshoes and snowmen; of skiing and sledding and curling and skating; and, yes hockey. Yet how often when we see snow falling do we think of the work we will have shoveling or the inconvenience we will have getting to work so we can make money or to the store so we can spend it.
Snow flies in the face of our relentless obligation to make money to pay for the endless cycle of things that we must have. But money and things are very modern while snow is older than time. No one was there to see the first snowflake fall or to appreciate its unique beauty. Snow belongs. We are the new kids on the block. As such we owe winter all the respect that nature’s infinite wonders deserve.
Not so long ago, when we were closer to the land, to our food and water, winter provided a welcome respite from the endless work of planting, tending, preserving, harvesting and laying in firewood. Once winter arrived people were allowed to kick back by the fire once in a while. Coloured sleighs carried people over the snow not through it. Our grandparents knew how to celebrate winter in style.
What is the point of making billions of snowflakes, each one a unique star of exquisite beauty, if not to be appreciated? Nature performs its miracles all around us every day; but as with every artist, it wants us to say, “Wow! That’s amazing.” Beauty needs to be appreciated. Both the artist and the audience benefit from sharing in creation and neither is complete without the other. They meet on a level of the soul that cannot be accessed in any other way.
So let’s hear it for the snow and the rain and the sun and the mist. They are nature’s masterpieces on display for our pleasure. If we can ever learn to appreciate the art and beauty of creation, then climate change will no longer be the wolf blowing down our house. We are the ones that are out of step, not nature. We are the ones that need to make the changes. We are the ones that have only been here for the briefest of moments. And the changes are so very simple. All we need to do is to take the time to admire nature’s artistry and to say, from the heart, “Wow! That really is amazing.” See you next time.