Snow day

It is snowing hard as I write this, and the naked branches outside our window are being clothed in winter white. Have I been transported back to Sisters? No, we're on a hillside in Portland, and the wind and snow are a welcome relief from the gray and drizzle we've been seeing.

I've always thought it wise of the creator—however you define her—to make snow so very white and to lavish it over the landscape at the darkest time of the year. When the ground and trees are covered with snow and the sun shines upon it, even the darkest corners of the house awake and cheer.

I've been thinking about my mother today because she would have loved this view and this snow. But she was a great worrier, and at some point in the day she would no doubt begin to worry about the whereabouts of those she loved and imagine the endless, disastrous possibilities: slides, slips, crashes,  falling trees, broken bones; anything and everything were grist to her worry mill.

This habit of hers used to drive me crazy, but it also taught me that worry is a waste of time. Her anxious distress almost never reflected the real world, and I often think how different her life might have been had she not let her mind return again and again to the deepening ruts of imagined disasters.

I am no worrier, but confess to occasional edginess, stress and trepidation, and I acknowledge that some occasions demand concern. The recent election has brought such feelings to the surface and I hear from friends and strangers alike words of fear, worry, loss, dismay, and outrage. The very air reeks of anxiety; if my mother were alive she would no doubt feel right at home. And as the days shorten and the darkness increases, it's tempting to retreat into our private shells and huddle there in isolation while the world goes on around us.

But isolation is no answer. Neither is fear. Certainly not worry. Reality is out there waiting for us and action is the best antidote for negative thinking. So many are doing positive work and we too can join them. All is not lost. Life is full of surprises (I say this often because it's true) and the solstice and the light it brings are right around the corner. So, in the words of one of my favorite old songs,

Grab your coat and get your hat

Leave your worry on the doorstep

Just direct your feet

To the sunny side of the street.