notes from Janey . . .
It’s winter in Wyoming. The mercury in the thermometer has headed south, not to warmer climes but diving below zero into teeth-chattering cold.
The clear mountain creek and bare limbed trees out our dining room window have been changing every day. The recent cold plays with the water as if its Play Dough. Taking advantage of the thaw-freeze-thaw cycle it rearranges the mounds of white on the exposed boulders, twists the ice that flows through and around them, and draws a white sheet over the running water as if it’s dying.
This is where I sit each morning to write, but the beauty outside the window continually lures me away from the computer screen.
My artist eye tries to capture what my camera cannot. The scene stuns me with frigid, fragile beauty. The creek whispers a message, muffled by the ice and snow, so I sit for long periods of time just listening. Here’s what it tells me today.
The changing face of the creek shows what we do to ourselves when harsh outside conditions cause us to hide from others. When cruel words, unloving gestures, or tough experiences happen, we harden and close ourselves off to the world. We draw a sheet up over our emotions and cower underneath. We bury deep feelings, careful not to show too much. Our love becomes frozen, impossible to chisel from our hearts.
Then comes a warm touch, a sunny smile, an experience that makes us glow with pleasure. We thaw. Not much. But enough to let our true selves come up for air. Just like the appearance of the ice, we change with the circumstances, letting small patches of our always-flowing, inner being show when we feel safe.
But things can change quickly. Harsh conditions can ambush us when we least expect it so we keep our cover ready.
Brave are the ones that disregard what others say or do and stay true to themselves no matter what. Their cover of ice is non-existent even with the toughest human interactions. They set themselves up to get ridiculed and teased. But their spirit is a strong running current, making it impossible for a hard cover of ice to form. They don’t cower or cover up. Their hearts stay open and accessible.
We should all live like this.
The trick is to not let outside conditions have such a profound effect on us. The stronger we get, the stronger our inner flow will become. The stronger our inner spirit becomes the less chance someone or something can change our personal reality. Ice will fail to encase our heart.
Tupelo and I watched a full grown mountain lion use the ice to cross the creek one winter. His tail trailed behind him, leaving a shallow trench in the 6” of freshly fallen snow. His muscles rippled, and then he jumped across a patch of open water to get to the opposite bank. Ice wasn’t a deterrent. He used the ice to his advantage and got to where he wanted to go. Good for him.
This morning, the creek peeks out at me from the encroaching ice in a game of hide and seek. It’s not whispering anymore. It’s laughing because it knows its true strength, its true beauty will never go away. It will always be there, flowing strong and steady. It will never let the white cover of ice smother it completely. It waits with patience for the eventual return of spring.
We can learn a lot from Mother Earth if we just listen to her. Like what she said to me today: keep your inner spirit flowing strong – no matter what.
(Article and photos by Janey Wing Kenyon)
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