How to savor (another) freezing February morning

IMG_3754“If your daily life seems of no account, don’t blame it; blame yourself that you are not poet enough to call forth its treasures.”  ~ Rilke 

pen your eyes in darkness.

Listen to the heat kick on.

Snuggle more deeply into flannel sheets.

Say a prayer of thanks for the roof over your head, your warm house, the hot shower that awaits.

Turn your gaze toward the feathery frost on the window pane.

Allow moonlight to wash away sleep.

Watch stars wink out, the sky lighten by degrees, a scrim of rose etch itself across the mountain.

Rise with the sun.

heck the weather: – 8 on your New Hampshire hilltop, 7 for the son working in New York City, a balmy 22 for the one in school in Atlanta,   -15 for your husband visiting his sister in Minnesota.

Realize: everyone in your family is waking up in a cold place.

Send each one a “Brrr-good-morning-I-love-you” text signed with x’s and o’s.

Brew your Peet’s coffee with two extra scoops, the way you like it.

Drink slowly from the small blue mug that fits your hand just right, while the silent kitchen floods with sunlight.

at your oatmeal with everything on it: sea salt, brown sugar, raisins, walnuts, a sliced pear, a handful of half-thawed blueberries you picked last August, yogurt from the farm on the other side of the mountain.

Read from the book of letters that arrived in the mail yesterday, a gift from your friend Margaret, who knows the workings of your heart. Allow the words, written over sixty winters ago between two other dear friends, both long dead now, to wend their way into your own here and now, startling your imagination to life:

IMG_3837“Yes, there is something to be said for living  in this climate.  Don’t you notice a special kind of warmth between the folks who stick it out? Who wants to go pick oranges and grapefruit, we ask? A winter sunset is worth all the gold in the Indies. And shoveling tons of snow is fine exercise, just as good as water skiing!”

ash your bowl, spoon, mug.  Turn up the music till it fills the rafters. Notice how gratitude gives rise to joy.

Call your sister-in-law in Minneapolis, just home from the hospital with a new hip.  Hear the relief in her voice: soon she’ll walk again, and step out into her  backyard and fill her bird feeder with seeds.  Dash outside with a scoop of sunflower seeds for your own hungry chickadees.  Thank your hips for making this possible.

Dress for the weather: wool socks, long underwear, polar fleece pants, down coat, hat, the scarf Margaret sent you made from patched-together old sweaters, the Christmas mittens from your sister-in-law, also stitched from old sweaters.

mile: you are an anti-fashion statement swathed in polar fleece and sweater scraps, reclaimed pieces of other lives, other mornings, other peoples old warm clothes.

Lace up your boots, zip your L.L. Bean coat, buckle on your snowshoes.  Go.

nter the cathedral of silence. Carve a fresh trail through the woods.  Feel your heart pound in your chest, your own two strong legs carrying you forward, the whoosh of powder in your wake.  Stop and take in everything: the sounds of ice cracking, water running, a drift of sparkling powder cascading from a bough, the creak of tall pine, a cardinal’s sharp call, your own breath rising in plumes around your face.

Study the tracks at your feet and know: you aren’t alone here.  Widen your circle of compassion to embrace these silent winter neighbors:  turkey, deer, hare, coyote, bobcat, shrew.

IMG_3829Lie down in a place no one as been before.  Watch the clouds drift by.

ove your arms, your legs. Remember what it felt like to be a child in the snow, making your own private magic, at one with the world.


“May you awaken to the mystery of being here.

May you have joy and peace in the temple of your senses.

May you respond to the call of your gift and find the courage to follow its path.

May you take time to celebrate the quiet miracles that seek no attention.

May you experience each day as a sacred gift woven around the heart of wonder.”

~ John O’Donohue

for my reflections & inspiration

your comments

  1. Beautiful, beautiful. I loved these simple yet purposeful images of what seems like a perfect day to me

  2. You always write beautifully…but today Katrina.. you were transcendent. The writing with the carefully taken pictures were a gift to me. Thank you.

  3. Oh boy, did I need this beautiful reflection on winter this morning. It’s 7 degrees (which is balmy of late) outside and I have to shlep to the grocery store and I am quite bitter about it. A sourpuss.

    But reading this was such a welcome reminder to seek out the beauty, even when hearts are cold.

  4. Almost makes me glad it’s cold. Almost! Great piece. I love your words.

  5. Someone on the phone early this morning asked me how I was doing. My reply “pretty great!”
    I have felt many moments as you so beautifully articulated Katrina of gratitude this winter. Embracing this winter instead of fighting it. Each moment thankful I am here with a strong body that allows me to shovel, clear a car almost buried in snow, salt the walk. Properly dressed winter weather can be quite invigorating! Music on and painting, I completely forget what’s happening outside or all the weather warnings that are non- stop. I treat myself to different teas, new books and getting together in the local coffee shop with a friend every Friday afternoon. We are all in this together so why not enjoy it. When I look back on this winter I will remember for me, it was a good one.

  6. Bet you missed your Gracie … Xo

    • Katrina Kenison says:

      She is with me in spirit, I know; but she isn’t flashing her tail as she bounds through the snow ahead of me, and yes, the tears froze on my cheeks.

  7. Stephanie Douglas says:

    …and I would add, to remember to say thanks for the gift of this beautiful day.

    I recently read a movie review and the writer said something like “…and as he watched with awe and reverence, what would be the last sunset of his life…”

    We never know, do we? Enjoy this beautiful day, the little things..the big things.
    Thanks Katrina, for always pointing us North.

  8. I sit here with my now empty cup of coffee, warm in my fuzzy slippers and housecoat. I read your words and have a new appreciation for the snowflakes coming down outside my window. The snow piles ever higher on my deck and I am grateful for seeing another February morning. Safe, warm. LOVED here in my quiet nest on Balsam Crescent.

    Thank you for these beautiful reflections. :)

  9. Jacqueline Iglesias says:

    I felt like I was there with you as I read this story….. Great description of what sounded like a wonderful and peaceful morning! PS I absolutely loved the old sweater patched scarf and gloves!!! Great idea!!

  10. Wow; what a way to start my day. Now it’s time to bundle up and take a walk in the 4′ (yes; that’s feet) of snow we have in Sisters, Oregon.

  11. Absolutely beautiful way to start my day. Loved the visuals too! Thank you Katrina!

  12. Oh, yes. That Rilke quote is so beautiful and perfect; I had not heard it before. And thanks for reminding me of all the goodness that is right here, even when the cold feels never-ending. xox

  13. Ooooohhhh I miss those sensory rich quiet mysteries of slumbering New England winters……. California, though lovely in it’s own beauty, is too consistent, too easy, too outward, when winter is supposed to beckon us inside….. Thank you for the beautiful images. I can’t wait to move back!

  14. shared this on my facebook page. It is so beautiful.

  15. Like a feather-fall of snow, these gently offered words are a gift. Thank you, Katrina. xo

  16. Thank you for the loveliness of this post. I had the California version of this today — waking up in a cozy bed to the sound of rain pounding outside. Such a welcome sound after the driest winter ever recorded in our state.

    I love the O’Donohue quotation, too — what is the name of the book? .

  17. thank you, Katrina.

  18. Truly lovely. A gift. Thank you.

  19. hmbalison says:

    Loved a view of your world.

    And in my finally rainy world this morning…

    Put on a raincoat and stand in the wind, get pelted with rain, and watch your happy Rhodesian Ridgeback dance in the churning gray waves at the beach…

  20. Wow, so good! I was cursing the winter today, but now you make me want to appreciate its beauty! You are magical :)

  21. Linda Rosenfeld says:

    Times like this make me wish for a big backyard to romp through and explore. Having physical limitations, it made me grateful for being in a warm home with
    electricity and running water, things some families in my area don’t have right now. To appreciate the everyday things most of us take for granted is to be aware of the daily blessings we do have. I spent time on the actual phone catching up with faraway relatives and friends, and enjoyed the company of family at home. I sometimes feel like a bear who hibernates in her own little cave, and comes out every once in awhile to survey the scene. I am cozy and quite content for now. Thank you for making me realize how much these days mean, in a positive light.

  22. Pam Gardner says:

    beautiful words and pictures-
    thank you!

  23. Your photos in this post are especially exquisite. And I too thought of Gracie as you headed outside for your walk. Thanks for sharing a beautiful winter morning in words and pictures.

  24. As I started to read your beautiful words I was thinking how I started my day in a very similar manner, snuggling in my flannel sheets and saying a prayer before I looked out my window to see gentle snow falling. Such an ordinary day, yet by your words it felt extraordinary. Thank you for your lovely post.

  25. Thanks again Katrina, for your beautiful words and photos.
    I’m surrounded by snow and ice here in Portland, Oregon. I flew up here last week before the snow storm to take care of my childhood home for the next new renters. As my father used to say, “it had been trying to snow” off and on until last Thursday when it meant business. After 30 years in Los Angeles, I really enjoyed feeling the old childhood thrill of seeing it snow again. I had to postpone my flight til Tuesday due to weather conditions. I didn’t mind a longer retreat. I’m cherishing my time alone here in a warm cozy hotel with views of the white wintery landscape outside my window. It’s starting to warm up a bit today and I could hear the birds singing this morning!
    Your words and snow scape remind me of New England writers of the past who wrote of “a road less traveled”. You are continuing a wonderful literary heritage. Thank you.

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