Creating Beauty this February ~ Thinking About Our Words

IMG_4297When considering how to create beauty, we may think of decorating our living room, arranging flowers or setting a table. Maybe we imagine painting a picture or playing a piano concerto. These may all be worthy pursuits, but we can create beauty simply by the words we choose to speak.

One of my goals as a middle school teacher was to create a beautiful classroom environment. I wanted our language arts classroom to be a place filled with lovely words. Of course, the best way to fulfill this goal was to let my own words model what I desired. At one time I had a poster in my classroom that read ~

Before you speak, THINK…
T – is it true?
H – is it helpful?
I – is it inspiring?
N – is it necessary?
K – is it kind? 

I admit the poster was as much for me as it was for my students. Now that I’m retired, I’ve noticed my own words have become less admirable. How easy it is to let the words that come out of our mouths create ugliness instead of beauty, especially in a world where toxic language is often the norm. It’s difficult to go through a single day without hearing words that are rude, crude, sarcastic and negative. None of this will ever create beauty ~ for ourselves or for others.

Recently, my morning devotional (once again) seemed written specifically for me. It ended with this prayer, “Lord, please put a guard and filter over my mouth and help me speak only what is edifying, uplifting and encouraging to those around me. Help me to see the good in others the way you do. Help me to highlight that which will bless another heart and make someone else’s day.”

Oh, if I could only do that how much beauty I could create in the world! Like anything that requires self-discipline, I’m taking it one day at a time. Just for today, I will think before I speak and ask myself if it is true, helpful, inspiring, necessary and kind. §

“Kind words are like honey, sweet to the soul and healthy for the body.”
Proverbs 16:24

Loving the Land of Lincoln

IMG_4012Ask me who my favorite president is, and I will respond without hesitation. I feel a personal and serendipitous connection to Abraham Lincoln. Our 16th president isn’t just a distant historical figure to me; his presence has been woven into the fabric of my life since childhood.

I grew up in Mount Vernon where I attended Lincoln Elementary School. In the school’s foyer, which in my memory was quite grand, hung a portrait of Abraham Lincoln that became as familiar as a photo of a beloved relative. From kindergarten through sixth grade, I felt Lincoln’s sleepy warm eyes watching over me.

I’ve admired the man since the day my first grade teacher told a story of Lincoln working as a store clerk in New Salem, Illinois. Honest Abe accidentally short-changed a customer by a few pennies and walked several miles to return the money. The simple story cemented in my young mind the value of honesty and the integrity of Lincoln.

As a child, I was always proud to be from the Land of Lincoln where Abraham Lincoln moved with his family in 1830. He grew up poor and never had more than a year of formal education, but he studied to become a lawyer and eventually served as an Illinois state representative. Like most sons and daughters of Mount Vernon, I knew that long ago Lincoln visited our town to work at the impressive white building called the Appellate Courthouse.

It wasn’t until fifth grade that our new young teacher, Mr. Cleo Holt, captivated me with his lessons about our school’s namesake leading our country through an unfathomable time in history. The classroom faded away, as Mr. Holt passionately taught us how Lincoln was elected as president just weeks before the first state seceded from the Union, how his presidency was consumed by the brutal Civil War, how he signed the Emancipation Proclamation, gave the Gettysburg Address, won a second presidential election and was tragically shot and killed.

I left my hometown after high school and became an English teacher in Florida where schools were commonly and uncomfortably named for Confederate generals. Lincoln was with me every time I tearfully taught the poem Oh Captain! My Captain! by Walt Whitman. Through extended metaphor, the poem tells about the death of Lincoln just after the Civil War ended. The last lines read, “The ship is anchor’d safe and sound, its voyage closed and done, From fearful trip the victor ship comes in with object won: Exult O shores, and ring O bells! But I with mournful tread, Walk the deck my Captain lies, fallen cold and dead.”

Lincoln was with me year after year when I taught Irene Hunt’s beautiful novel Across Five Aprils which tells the story of the Creighton family who lives in Jasper County, Illinois during the time of the Civil War. The protagonist, Jethro, is only nine when the war begins. As he struggles with mixed messages from family members who support opposite sides of the war, he writes to President Lincoln. Lincoln’s kind response provides the guidance, wisdom and mercy that young Jethro is seeking. In turn, readers feel personally comforted and led by Lincoln’s words.

I felt I’d returned to my roots when I found myself teaching at Grant Middle School in Fairview Heights, Illinois. Ulysses S. Grant was, of course, a dear friend of Lincoln. The most memorable field trip I ever took with my students was to the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum in Springfield, Illinois. I was touched by the incredible exhibits, particularly one that highlighted Lincoln as an imperfect man of faith whose antislavery stance grew more firm as he sought guidance from scripture. He said, “I know there is a God, and that he hates injustice and slavery. I see the storm coming, and I know that His hand is in it. If He has a place and work for me – and I think he has – I believe I am ready.”

Thomas Wolfe wrote you can’t go home again, but a couple of years ago I landed right back in Mount Vernon. I remember taking a drive to reacquaint myself with my hometown. As I turned toward the Appellate Courthouse, I saw something new to me ~ a beautiful bronze statue of Abraham Lincoln. The nine-foot-tall statue features Lincoln wearing his distinctive stove top hat and carrying a briefcase. His other hand is outstretched, as if to personally welcome me back home.

The statue, created by Ohio sculptor Alan Cottrill, portrays Lincoln as a young lawyer and is accessible to the public through the black iron gates of the Appellate Courthouse which continues to be used in the same manner as it was when constructed in 1857. An inscription explains the monument commemorates Lincoln’s visit to the courthouse in November, 1859 on behalf of his client the Illinois Central Railroad. The plaque reads, “Lincoln’s victory in this case rescued the railroad from financial ruin. If Lincoln had lost this case, the Illinois Central most likely would have been forced into bankruptcy, which would have been disastrous to the state of Illinois and its economy.”

The monument came into existence through the efforts of a local Illinois Bicentennial Committee, led by attorney Mark Hassikis. The committee secured close to $100,000 including donations from the community, commissioned the statue, and held the monument’s dedication in 2008. Hassikis also attended Lincoln Elementary School and happens to be a longtime friend of my family. I called him to chat about the statue which led down a trail of conversation about our school days, our hometown, and our mutual esteem for our 16th president. Seems I’m not the only one who feels such a nostalgic connection to Abraham Lincoln and is proud to call the Land of Lincoln home. §

“Be sure to put your feet in the right place, then stand firm.”
~ Abraham Lincoln

Something Sublime for February ~ Friendship

IMG_4237I’ve been thinking a lot about the beauty of friendship. Our friends exist on a continuum from the most casual to the most intimate, but they all make life more worth the journey. Literature holds so many profound quotes about friendship, but I’m partial to this one from Winnie-the-Pooh, “A friend is one of the nicest things you can have and one of the best things you can be.”

A few days ago I hosted a few gal-pals to celebrate our dear friend’s 85th birthday and Galentine’s Day. The group of ladies that filled my living room ranged in age from 30 to 89. Most I’ve known my whole life but others I’ve met more recently, reminding us that a circle of friends can always get bigger. The cold and blustery day made being together feel that much warmer, and the memories will remain as sparkling as the punch, as sweet as the cake and as happy as the bouquet of flowers decorating the table.

Another day this week my husband and I attended a funeral visitation. Hundreds of people had come to say goodbye to their friend and offer condolences to her family. I was struck, though not surprised, how the line overflowed from the sanctuary and wound through the church. What a friend she must have been to her family, classmates, neighbors, co-workers, students, church, close friends and casual acquaintances. Several times I fought back tears at the example and victory of a life so well lived.

That same evening, we sat around a kitchen table playing dominoes with my lifelong friends and their dad. (I was in our friends’ wedding 37 years ago!) Our parents were all close friends for as long as we can remember, but there is only one left to play dominoes with us. I was so distracted by the bittersweet memories, I forgot most of the rules of Mexican Train and lost every single game, but it was an evening filled with the delight of friendship.

Now and then, the storm clouds of life make us especially grateful for those few special people who are there for us come rain or come shine. Just a couple of days ago, I needed to reach out to my closest crew for their support and guidance, and I only hope I can return the favor. Good old Pooh Bear said it best, “Anyone can show up when you’re happy. But the ones who stay by your side when your heart falls apart, they are your true friends.”

As good and true as friends can be, there is someone else we can always count on. As the hymn goes, “What a friend we have in Jesus, all our sins and griefs to bear. What a privilege to carry everything to God in prayer.” I’m honored to count God among my dearest friends. I know he was there at our party, at the funeral, around the kitchen table and in that moment when everything seemed to be falling apart. “Can we find a friend so faithful who will all our sorrows share? Jesus knows our every weakness; take it to the Lord in prayer.” §

“We’ll be Friends Forever, won’t we, Pooh?” asked Piglet.
“Even longer,” Pooh answered.
~ A. A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh

Speaking the Language of Love

IMG_4034Ah, love is in the air! This Valentine’s Day, Americans are expected to spend nearly $3 billion helping Cupid shoot his arrow into the hearts of those we love. That’s a whole lot of flowers and chocolate, but what if our loved ones really just want us to hold their hand, say those three little words or unload the dishwasher?

Thirty years ago marriage counselor Gary Chapman wrote a best-selling book called The 5 Love Languages. The book has sold more than 20 million copies worldwide and has been translated into 50 different languages. Chapman believes everyone gives and receives love in different ways. He asserts that we all speak one of five specific love languages and that to create loving long-lasting relationships, we must learn to speak each other’s language.

Chapman’s five love languages include words of affirmation, quality time, receiving gifts, acts of service and physical touch. His theory applies to all relationships including those with friends, parents, children, siblings and even co-workers. Here’s a brief description of each love language ~

Love Language #1 Words of Affirmation ~ This language uses words to affirm other people. Verbal compliments and words of appreciation are powerful communicators of love. Chapman says they are best expressed in simple, straightforward statements of affirmation. For example you might take the time to sincerely say, “I appreciate the time you took to put together our family reunion. You did a great job.”

Love Language #2 Quality Time ~ This language is all about giving the other person your undivided attention. Chapman explains the concept means giving someone your full attention while wholeheartedly doing something they enjoy. This might mean going with them to a concert, movie or sporting event, even if that’s not your favorite thing to do.

Love Language #3 Receiving Gifts ~ For some people, receiving a heartfelt gift is what makes them feel most loved. Chapman writes, “Gifts are visual symbols of love.” The gift need not be expensive. What’s important is that you thought of that person. The gift is a tangible expression of that thoughtfulness.

Love Language #4 Acts of Service ~ For these people, actions speak louder than words. By this, Chapman means doing something for someone that lightens their load. Such actions might include cooking a meal, filling the car with gas, helping a child with homework or mowing the lawn. Chapman writes these acts of service “require thought, planning, time, effort and energy. If done with a positive spirit, they are indeed expressions of love.”

Love Language #5 Physical Touch ~ To this person, nothing speaks more deeply than a caring touch. Research shows babies who are held and cuddled develop a healthier emotional life than those who don’t receive physical contact. Many individuals feel unloved without physical touch.

If you are interested in knowing more about Gary Chapman’s work with love languages, go to There you will find a love language quiz as well as other resources. By learning to recognize these preferences in ourself and those we love, we can identify the root of conflicts, connect more profoundly, and grow more loving relationships.

Before you spend the average $175 on a Valentine’s Day gift this week, consider your recipient’s love language. Maybe she really will swoon over that five-foot stuffed Teddy bear, but then again maybe she’d just like you to take out the trash. §

“The number of ways to express love within a love language is limited only by your imagination.”
~ Dr. Gary Chapman, author of The Five Love Languages

February Presence ~ Breath Prayers

IMG_4164If you’ve ever made any effort to be more present or mindful, you’ve probably practiced deep breathing exercises. I’ve recently learned to take this idea a step further with something called breath prayer, the ancient practice of meditating on a short verse or phrase while slowly inhaling and exhaling.

I noticed the term breath prayer for the first time while re-reading Rick Warren’s best-selling book The Purpose Driven Life. A little more research revealed breath prayer is a common practice, and there are many books devoted entirely to the subject. Apparently, I’ve been missing out on something pretty simple and incredibly powerful!

The beauty of the breath prayer is that it can be done any place, any time. You don’t have to be sitting in meditation, in a church pew or have your eyes closed. You can be in the car, in the grocery store, at work, in the middle of a conversation, vacuuming the living room or taking a walk.

We all know that without breath, we die, yet it’s not something we often stop and think about. Research shows breathing deeply can ~

  • calm the sympathetic nervous system
  • lower heart rate and blood pressure
  • reduce stress and anxiety
  • relieve pain
  • increase energy
  • improve symptoms of depression
  • improve memory
  • reduce inflammation
  • improve core muscle stability

I turned to several sources to help me better understand breath prayer. According to Jennifer Tucker, author of Breath as Prayer (Calm Your Anxiety, Focus Your Mind, and Renew Your Soul), “Breath prayers combine deep breathing with prayers of meditation on God’s Word to help ease anxiety while turning your mind to Truth.”

Here is the simple process for the personal breath prayer I’ve been practicing ~                               .

  1. As I slowly and deeply inhale, I think on these words: Inhale God’s Love…
  2. As I slowly and deeply exhale, I think of these words: Exhale God’s Love…
  3. I repeat the prayer many times throughout the day. 

Here are a few other recommended scriptures and phrases for breath prayers ~

  • “Not my will…but yours be done. (Luke 22:42)
  • “May your unfailing my comfort.”(Psalm 119:76a)
  • “When I am afraid…I will trust in you.” (Psalm 56:3)
  • “My soul finds rest…in God alone.” (Psalm 62:1a)
  • “The Lord is my shepherd…I shall not want. (Psalm 23:1)
  • “Rejoice always…pray without ceasing.” (1 Thessalonians 5:16)
  • Inhale His peace…exhale my anxiety.
  • Inhale His presence…exhale my fear.
  • More Jesus…less me.

I don’t know what you have going on today or what you might be up against, but I hope this practice brings you the peace and presence it is bringing me. §

“Prayer is as natural an expression of faith as breathing is to life.”
Jonathan Edwards, 1700s theologian

Nature’s Encouragement to Hold On


Picture the late winter landscape painted with a stark and limited palette. Only shades of black and gray are needed for wet tree trunks and the tangle of bare limbs against an endless graphite sky. A few strokes of green capture ever-faithful pines. Surprisingly, the artist needs a touch of rich copper to paint odd clusters of leaves that still hold on to branches in February.

Step into the scene and listen. Hear the brittle brown leaves shake like maracas, growing loud and lively in the blowing wind. Despite the cold, rain and snow, they dance and sing. Winter’s harshness is no match for the perseverance of these brave leaves.

There’s a scientific explanation why some trees retain their leaves through the winter. It’s called marcescence, the withering and persistence of plant organs, such as leaves, that normally shed. Here in the Midwest of the United States, this phenomenon is most obvious in deciduous trees like oak, beech and hornbeam. Not being an arborist, I see those tenacious leaves as much-needed encouragement to keep holding on.

Sometimes we hold on through a difficult time. “Holding on to hope when everything is dark, is the greatest test of faith,” said educator Yasmin Mogahed. An exhausted caregiver struggles to get through another day. A devoted student faces an all-nighter during finals week. A patient counts down the number of chemo treatments. A broken heart takes time to heal. Life has its challenges, trials and grief, but we can’t give up. We must hold on.

Sometimes we hold on in anticipation of something wonderful. A woman awaits the birth of her baby. A bride awaits her wedding day. A child awaits a birthday. A prayer is finally answered. Life is marked by joyous celebrations. The wait can be excruciating, but we have to be patient. French novelist Gustave Flaubert wrote, “Pleasure is found first in anticipation, later in memory.” We must hold on.

Sometimes we simply hold on for the arrival of spring. Like marcescent leaves, we bravely turn our faces to another cold, gray day and cling a little tighter. The frosty wind grabs and shakes us, but we don’t let go. We let it become the palette of the season, knowing that spring will return with all its color, just as it always does. Way back in the 1600s poet Anne Bradstreet wrote, “If we had no winter the spring would not be so pleasant.” We must hold on.

We all have seasons in our lives that we simply have to wait out with courage and hope. These waiting times may last an hour, a few weeks or even years, but we hold on we must. The penny-colored leaves that dot the winter landscape show us the way. §

“Holding-on can be a joyful ‘this is just the nature of life, so I may as well enjoy it’ kind of holding-on.”
~ Jonathan Lockwood Huie, author

February Poetry ~ a surprising choice?


When I decided to write about poetry the first Wednesday of each month this year, I thought February would be easy. Poetry books are filled with beautiful love poems that help us celebrate the season of Saint Valentine’s Day. At closer look though, many of them fell short, feeling trite, tragic or melodramatic. As important as love is, I’m taking my choice seriously here.

I almost went with a sonnet by Elizabeth Barrett Browning or another written by her husband Robert Browning. But those poems are about romantic love and, as we all know, that’s not the only kind of love that exists. It is widely thought that there are four basic types of love, which come from Greek words. Eros is romantic love. Philia is brotherly love or friendship. Storge is familial love. Agape is the love of mankind. (Hallmark is cashing in on all of them!)

As I searched for the perfect poem, a well-known scripture kept running across my mind. You’ve probably heard it recited at many a wedding. The Apostle Paul wrote it in a letter to the people of Corinth telling them their problems stemmed from a lack of love for one another.

Especially around Valentine’s Day we tend to think of love in deep, flowery and abstract ways. We like to turn love inside out and upside down making it so complicated and dramatic, so convoluted and difficult. The verses from 1 Corinthians 13: 4-8 do read a bit like poetry, employing literary devices including repetition, tone and rhythm.

But Paul’s lovely words offer us a practical, crystal clear list of what love is and what love is not. So when we get confused about this crazy little thing called love, these poetic verses make for a simple, holistic and beautiful reminder.

Love is patient, love is kind.

It does not envy,
it does not boast,
it is not proud.

It does not dishonor others,
it is not self-seeking,
it is not easily angered,
it keeps no record of wrongs.

Love does not delight in evil but rejoices in truth.

It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 

Love never fails. §

“And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”
~ 1 Corinthians 13:13

Witnessing the Miracle of Change

IMG_4039There is a small pond in our neighborhood which changes drastically this time of year. On some winter days the sparkling water is marked with the wake of ducks swimming, other days it is frozen over with a sheet of white ice, and sometimes a ghostly caldron of steam hovers over it. Wintertime allows us to witness the miracle of change in real time.

It’s fascinating to see the water in the pond change from liquid to solid to gas and back again. The fact is, everything with mass and weight is made of matter and all matter can change. Stars and planets, butterflies and birds, rocks and rivers, you and I are all made of matter. Which means we all have to ability to change – a little or a lot.

Winston Churchill said, “To improve is to change; to be perfect is to change often.” Literature is filled with dynamic characters who undergo a positive transformation. Ebenezer Scrooge, Beauty’s Beast, Daddy Warbucks and everyone off to see the Wizard are just a few well-known characters who by the end of the story make a change for the better.

One of my favorite childhood novels is The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett. A sour little girl named Mary is sent to live in a sad and lonely place. As she tends a neglected garden, joy blossoms in her own heart changing the little girl and everyone around her.

History is marked by people whose change of heart changed the world. Rosa Parks bravely changed her mind about sitting in the back of the bus. The Apostle Paul saw the light on the road to Damascus. Abraham Lincoln’s view on the evils of slavery evolved. Call it flip-flopping, but George Bernard Shaw wrote, “Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.”

Ordinary people can change, too. Homeboy Industries is the largest gang intervention, rehabilitation and re-entry program in the world. Every year it helps thousands of former gang members become valuable citizens. Founder Father Gregory Joseph Boyle expressed the ability to help people change their lives by quoting poet Galway Kinnell. “Sometimes it is necessary to reteach a thing its loveliness.”

It’s said a leopard doesn’t change its spots. Certainly, we must be wise in our interactions, but we can always leave the door open for change. We can start by looking for the loveliness in ourselves in in others. We can break our own self-defeating and hurtful habits. We can have hope that the people we care about can and will do the same. Just think of a few people wreaking havoc in the world right now and imagine how things might change if only they did.

Perceived injustices, old hurts, political division, discouraging headlines, personal challenges, fear and pure stubbornness can make us as cold as ice. Maybe the dramatic transformation we see in our winter landscapes is nature’s reminder to let our hearts melt a little, show grace and have faith that in this new year we can learn, grow and change into the very best version of ourselves. §

“Change is only another word for growth, another synonym for learning.” 
~ Charles Handy, Irish author and philosopher

Creating Beauty in January ~ Candlelight

Screenshot 2023-01-23 at 4.51.28 PM

The cold, dark days of January beg for candlelight. What a simple way to add beauty to our surroundings. Candles can offer warm flickering light, enjoyable fragrance, and even inspiring symbolism.

I light a candle on our fireplace mantle nearly every morning before the sun rises. I love the sound of the matchstick striking in the quiet of the morning. The yellow-white flame flares and fades as it gently kisses the candlewick. I blow out the match and watch the gray smoke disappear as the candle shines with the promise of a new day. Candles can create beauty while we bathe, work, dine or clean the kitchen. No matter the time of day, candlelight instantly creates a peaceful ambiance, and couldn’t we all use a little more of that in our lives?

Most of us have stood in front of a display of candles bringing each one to our nose until we find the perfect one. In wintertime, favorite fragrances often include pine, vanilla, spice and berry. Fragrance experts recommend matching the scent to our activity as some fragrances are energizing and others are more relaxing. I love them all, but even in winter, I prefer a pretty floral scent that transports me to a spring garden. What is your favorite scent?

When I was a teacher, I loved having a candle burning on my classroom desk. I almost believe it had magical powers over my students, causing them to be quieter, calmer and more reflective ~ perfect for a middle school literature classroom. Candles hold symbolic significance and can represent romance, security, hope and spirituality. Saint Francis of Assisi wrote, “All the darkness in the world cannot extinguish the light of a single candle.”

There are many ways to create more beauty in our lives, but lighting a candle in the deep midwinter takes little effort for big results. So let’s light a candle, soak up the glow, inhale the fragrance, and let it remind us to shine our own light into a dark world. §

“There are two ways of spreading light: to be the candle or the mirror that reflects it.”
~ Edith Wharton, American Novelist

A Note to You ~ Thank you for being here! Just so you know, on Sundays I share the weekly column I write for The Southern Illinoisan. My Wednesday posts are a little more personal and written specifically for readers of The Simple Swan. In 2023, Wednesday posts will be on a specific topic ~
1st Wednesday ~ Poetry
2nd Wednesday ~ Being Present
3rd Wednesday ~ Something Sublime
4th Wednesday ~ Creating Beauty

Thank you! 

Snowfall Quiets a Restless World

IMG_3997When a pretty winter snow tucks everyone in under a cozy blanket of white, I feel as I did long ago when my fussy babies finally drifted off to sleep. In that magical time when snowflakes fall like fairy dust from the sky, the world becomes as still as a child in dreamy slumber. If you listen closely, the snow sings a soothing lullaby that hushes our restless world, and as the flakes float through the frosty air, they whisper comforting words we may have lost along our busy way.

Softly… In his poem The Dream Keeper, Langston Hughes wrote about “the too rough fingers of the world.” To some extent, we’ve all experienced the harshness of this world. A friend told me she was afraid the world was making her hard. I understand her concern, but I know better. She has the kind of heart that will allow her to stay soft. The more jagged and edgy the world becomes, the more important it is for some of us to hold on to a presence as soft as snow.

Gently… Gentleness isn’t celebrated much these days. We make heroes of the rough and tough, the fast and furious, the brash and the bold. Author Garrison Keillor wrote, “Even in a time of elephantine vanity and greed, one never has to look far to see the campfires of gentle people.” My husband is proof it’s possible to possess a kind of gentle strength. Like snowflakes, we can learn to move through life more gently.

Quietly…  In his famous poem about a snowy evening, Robert Frost took us into the woods where the only sound was “the sweep of easy wind and downy flake.” He makes us want to enter those woods so lovely, dark and deep to escape our noisy world. Music thumps from the car in the next lane. Shoppers blab into cell phones while roaming store aisles. Restaurants are so loud it’s hard to converse. Even the thinnest layer of velvety white snow muffles the noise with a welcome quietude.

Peacefully… There is a precious stretch of time when freshly fallen snow turns the world into a scene encased in a snow globe. As if in suspended animation, everything snow touches becomes perfect and peaceful. Looking out an icy window or taking a winter walk, the snow brings a sense of pure tranquility. “It powders all the wood,” wrote Emily Dickinson. “It fills with alabaster wool the wrinkles in the road.”

Long before the snow has to be shoveled, before it is spoiled by boots and sleds and tire tracks, before it turns into the slushy mess that is real life, a lovely snowfall freezes our world for a spell. It forces us to settle in for a little respite, and allows us to contemplate nature, our nature, so soft, gentle, quiet and peaceful. §

“I wonder if the snow loves the trees and fields, that it kisses them so gently? And then it covers them up snug, you know, with a white quilt and perhaps it says, ‘go to sleep, darlings, till the summer comes again.’ ” 
~ Lewis Caroll