We have a saying here in Texas, that if you don’t like the weather, wait twenty minutes.
Last week we had Highs in the upper sixties, with bright, warm sunshine and blue cloudless skies. We picnicked in the sun, and photographed pelicans and geese sunning themselves at the Lake.
By Monday we had torrential rain, with grey clouds, and drizzly cold London fog. The temperature started dramatically dropping, and within hours it was below 30 degrees.
Yesterday it started snowing while I was at work. I came home to two inches of white pristine blankets on the patio and the plants. The beauty of it was evident. Virgin snow, covering all the fallen leaves, all the evidence of last week’s gardening, disguising even the most ugly corners.
We certainly have diversity in our weather here in Texas, and I thought I would use that as a theme for this week’s blog.
As a significant portion of the south central valley and Eastern states are gripped by winter storms, and blanketed by masses of snow, a couple of inches in Dallas seems insignificant. However, the site of children scraping enough snow to have gleeful snowball fights in our neighbor’s yard, and twenty year-olds, tobogganing down the hill near my house, reminded me that “everything is relative” to what you are used to.
Drivers panic down here when ice and freezing rain are mentioned. People call in from work because they are too petrified to drive. Everything comes to a halt.
The world becomes stifled by a compulsory restraint. We are forced to regroup.
I started thinking about how peaceful the earth is after a snow fall. How much it covers the flaws and stifles the sounds. Snow, no matter how many times you have seen it, is such a beautiful site. So perfect, so quiet, so peaceful.
I wanted to capture that peace in the context of peaceful change.
I wanted to tie it into the poetry of everyday life.
So I looked for a poem that might express that Zen-like state;
The state of being in the moment.
I think I found it in this poem called
Shoveling Snow with Buddha by Billy Collins
In the usual iconography of the temple or the local Wok
you would never see him doing such a thing,
tossing the dry snow over a mountain
of his bare, round shoulder,
his hair tied in a knot,
a model of concentration.
Sitting is more his speed, if that is the word
for what he does, or does not do.
Even the season is wrong for him.
In all his manifestations, is it not warm or slightly humid?
Is this not implied by his serene expression,
that smile so wide it wraps itself around the waist of the universe?
But here we are, working our way down the driveway,
one shovelful at a time.
We toss the light powder into the clear air.
We feel the cold mist on our faces.
And with every heave we disappear
and become lost to each other
in these sudden clouds of our own making,
these fountain-bursts of snow.
This is so much better than a sermon in church,
I say out loud, but Buddha keeps on shoveling.
This is the true religion, the religion of snow,
and sunlight and winter geese barking in the sky,
I say, but he is too busy to hear me.
He has thrown himself into shoveling snow
as if it were the purpose of existence,
as if the sign of a perfect life were a clear driveway
you could back the car down easily
and drive off into the vanities of the world
with a broken heater fan and a song on the radio.
All morning long we work side by side,
me with my commentary
and he inside his generous pocket of silence,
until the hour is nearly noon
and the snow is piled high all around us;
then, I hear him speak.
After this, he asks,
can we go inside and play cards?
Certainly, I reply, and I will heat some milk
and bring cups of hot chocolate to the table
while you shuffle the deck.
and our boots stand dripping by the door.
Aaah! says the Buddha, lifting his eyes
and leaning for a moment on his shovel
before he drives the thin blade again
deep into the glittering white snow.
Waking up to snow is like waking up to a new world.
The first fall of snow is not only an event, it is a magical event. You go to bed in one kind of a world and wake up in another quite different, and if this is not enchantment then where is it to be found?
J. B. Priestley
Each tiny snowflake carries individual properties and symbolizes how diverse our world truly is.
“The snowflake can serve as a beautiful symbol for human individuality. But the metaphor needn’t end there. Just as the snowflake is changed and altered by the conditions around it, we, too, are affected by what we experience on our journeys.
“Don’t be a flake,” conventional wisdom cautions. I disagree. We’re all flakes…intricate, beautiful snowflakes, continually branching out and evolving. And if the conditions aren’t right for the type of growth we desire, we can move or change them. At minimum, we can always control our own reactions to a situation. As the poet Maya Angelou put it, “I can be changed by what happens to me, but I refuse to be reduced by it.”
Although we all start out with similar characteristics, the way we choose to grow and change—how we reach out and extend ourselves—is entirely up to us. And through that process we become as unique as a complex snowflake, each more rare and beautiful than a snow day in the desert. Not by default, but by design.”
The fall of snow reminds us of the value of our own individualism
"To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else
is the greatest accomplishment."
Ralph Waldo Emerson
"Every one of us is, in the cosmic perspective, precious.
If a human disagrees with you, let him live.
In a hundred billion galaxies, you will not find another."
So let us enjoy the snow while it lasts, no matter how disruptive it is to our everyday lives. Be in the moment and contemplate it’s peaceful symbolism.
The future Lies before you
Like a field of fallen snow
Be careful how you tread it
For every step will show.
Have a great week!
and remember.... wait twenty minutes......