The Polar Vortex! The blast of arctic air is blanketing almost half of the United States, including Virginia where I live. I woke up this morning as it was warming up and my thermometer said 7 degrees. 7 degrees! Not only are we having to endure these chilly temperatures, we've been pounced upon by snow, rain, and wind-chills below zero. It was so cold last night that ice formed on my windows, crystals were left to sparkle from the trees and blades of grass this morning, and now birds of every kind are flocking to the feeder. Just before sitting down to write this, I found myself shivering on the deck in my warmest coat, a bright red one I bought in December at the thrift shop hoping I wouldn't need one so heavy and warm.
Some people think things like cold weather bring out the best in us: Mother Nature nudging us to dig deep inside our selves, to be open to extremes in life and to the possibility that our 21st Century dispositions don't always serve us well. Our lives padded by modern conveniences seem to cause us to focus on what we don't have instead of embracing what we do. For most of us, we have way more than enough, including days of warm sunny weather and blue skies both behind us and yet to come
So, for today at least, I've become an anti-modern revolutionary, a "bring on the cold weather so I can get back to basics" rebel, a "you don't scare me Mother Nature 'cause I know you're just doing your job" insurgent.
Lately, I've been trying this out; exploring whether this "bring out the best in us" notion makes any sense. And it's interesting! Here's what I've learned:
I can make good soup and when it's cold outside, there's nothing more satisfying;
I'm lucky to have a warm house, warmer than my friend Mary who celebrates when her living room hovers at 60 degrees instead of 50;
I have something to talk about with people I don't know while waiting in line at the supermarket and it feels neighborly and good.
Most importantly, there seems to be a cleansing taking place when the cold sets in - a quieting that creeps in and lets me just sit and be, rocking with a warm blanket and a cup of tea, feeling comfort in the silent wisdom that everything doesn't need to be about what I want and think I need. When it's cold outside, something in the air, in the crystals, pressing against the windows, breathing softly into my warm coat says to me: "There's magic in the universe creating order and meaning that's so much bigger and more beautiful than what I think I know."