Octo Observations: Winter Wonderland Magic

Eleven inches of new fallen snow on one day in any southeastern state is a major event. But arriving during the holiday season creates chaos. As roads and highways become slippery, traffic is slowed and snarled, shoppers are frustrated, and life takes a momentary U-turn. Suddenly we are reminded that although we control our daily lives pretty well, when Mother Nature speaks, only she is in charge. Grumble or groan if you wish…OR…embrace the beauty.

This past Sunday morning, while preparing for church, we looked outdoors. A bona fide snowstorm greeted our eyes. Not just a few random flurries. Cancelling any plans to venture forth, we nestled into our retirement cottage, fixed pancakes and bacon (a rare treat), turned on the gas fireplace, and settled in for a cozy reprieve from life. All day the flakes fell. All day we gazed outdoors as the ground became whiter, and the snow accumulation grew deeper. It was spectacular. By late afternoon, emails and texts announced the cancellation of Monday appointments, the closing of schools, the cessation of most activities, including holiday parties. Snowstorms of such magnitude in the southeastern USA are hardly ordinary. People and public services are caught off-guard.

Throughout this day, while my husband read and snoozed peacefully, I wrote Christmas cards, and listened to the TV replay of President George Herbert Walker Bush’s state funeral. What an incredible realization that for a short time last week, our country focused on the life of a remarkable man: one of the last remaining heroes born into The Greatest Generation…for the first time in many years, we came together as Americans. A special day of reflection and appreciation. A testimony to tradition and honor… and for me, a Gift from Above.

On Monday morning, with the snowfall ended, the roads untouched, and the sun shedding glittery light as far as the eye could see, our vista embraced a real-life scene from an old -fashioned Currier and Ives Christmas card. Suddenly, my heart leapt into my throat, and I thought, “Skip the laundry. Get yourself out there and play!”

Having a small garage, my husband’s car was protected while mine sat buried in the driveway. Uh oh. Equipped with old boots resurrected from the attic plus a vintage hand-painted snow shovel gifted to us in the seventies by Mobile, Alabama friends before we moved north to Connecticut, I felt ready to take on the elements. (The faded inscription on the shovel reads as follows: “While you are shoveling all those hours, think of us among the flowers!”) Puppy Pippa was eager to explore a proper place to piddle. No grass, but she and I forged a path. To watch her tentative steps into the snow, to feel the burst of radiant sunshine on our faces, and to see the beauty of trees cocooned in a sparkling white blanket, well, “my cup runneth over.” Suddenly, I felt 10 years old!

For the next sixty to ninety minutes, we played, we shoveled, we delivered a newspaper to our neighbor’s front door, and we felt totally free. The temptation to plop down in the snow and wildly wave my arms and legs to create an angel was averted only by fear of two things: one, causing neighbors to stroke out at the sight, and two, worrying that I might not be able to get back up unaided! Hmmmm…how about making a snowman? Or throwing snowballs at the trees? Options, indeed…the texture was perfect, and oh how I wished our cross-country skis had not disappeared during a previous move! (In retrospect, a wise decision.)

Being an Octogenarian now for nearly a year is just fine. I don’t care how old I am, but I do care how I view life. I realize more each day that if we aren’t careful, we will miss golden nuggets of unanticipated opportunity. It is awfully easy to see the negative side of our lives. It gets easier as we get older. A wise lady I know once said that “our reactions are voluntary, not involuntary.” We are all wired with a knee jerk impulse to push back or pull away from anything that seems undesirable. But, we can manage those feelings. We can look for the positives, even if at times “inconvenient” events happen. We can look forward to tomorrow, to letting go, to counting every blessing, every happy moment. And having the fleeting chance to shed all worries, to feel no creaks in joints or muscles, well, that was truly delightful.

Yesterday, for me, was one of the best Christmas presents possible. Priceless, meaningful and magical. May each of you know that same feeling during this glorious Holiday season. Believe me, it will nourish your soul.  And may God Bless every fleeting moment you ever have to act or feel young in a Winter Wonderland.

Joy Nevin is the author of Joy of Retirement – Live, Love, and Learn. Click to buy on Amazon.

Top photo: Bigstock