Wonderful Winter Day

The 26-degree temperature and frozen bird baths announce this morning’s cold, the first hard chill of 2022. In fact, (“I think to myself, what a wonderful world”) that it is the first one of this winter season as I watch robins, cardinals, chickadees, and thrashers trying to create just a crack in the cruel ice of the birdbaths. All they accomplish, however, is a slide across the unfamiliar frozen circles or a sideways hopping along each edge. They quickly realize the futility involved here and adapt—and gracefully fly to other sources. Above all this life the almost harsh winter sunlight penetrates the scene, but it comes from a slightly more northerly track; proof of the lasting rotation which announces, if one is observant, winter season’s end began on December 21, at 21:48 UTC because that is when the winter solstice occurred in 2022.

Despite the occasional winter cold, I watch the sun rise each day to mark its position over the lake and note that each day’s light is a bit longer before sunset. In this way the gloom of raw, winter days is lessened and hope for warm, light filled days is sustained. For instance, as I type these words the next morning, one patch of the back garden is abruptly filled with red-winged blackbirds that gather at the non-frozen bird bath like members of a dunking sect. They drink, then hop to the turf under the feeder that hangs from the bare dogwood tree. Life, even on such a morning, swarms here and across the whole earth.

In 1967 Louis Armstrong recorded “What a Wonderful World”, the well-known song written and arranged by George David Weiss and Bob Thiele. I quote it in the first paragraph because it is a fine reminder of what we are given in this “wonderful world.”

Once, when I was a young man struggling with my first heartache, my mother said to me, “Son, sometimes this ol’ world is hard.” She, the mother who reared six children alone, certainly knew how true her words were. But she also shared her love of trees and birds and flowers. One memory I hold close is of her standing at her kitchen window, looking out at her back yard that was full of maple trees that we had planted. Today, all these years later, my wife and I enjoy birds visiting a birdbath that adorned her yard beneath those maples. She found solace where she could and used it as one of her shields against the hardness that life sometimes showed.

Armstrong, however, sings that friends, like nature, also make the world a wonderful place. He sings, “The colors of the rainbow so pretty in the sky/Are also on the faces of people going by/I see friends shaking hands saying how do you do/They’re really saying I love you.”

January cold. Ice. Snow. Short, dark days. All of this real. But even in these days is the promise of better ones coming.  Share it with a friend.

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