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Winter Walks

OK before you read and say “what?” Really, I did start writing this when it was cold and it actually snowed. I guess winter is over but still hope you enjoy.

We have been lucky here in the mid-west to have had warm almost spring days pop-up throughout winter and snow coming late in the season. Winter may have been late, but he always comes.

I have lived in four season locales for most of my life and while I don’t mind the winter (I think this is because I’m always cold anyway), the winds and cold of it sinks in slowly and I wonder, like most, when the spring will come again. I guess the routine of winter, unlike other seasons seems just that – too routine. Too slow, very sloppy, and always cold. It’s the slowing down that I never really have appreciated before and those benefits of stopping. Winter in some ways is perhaps like the inhalation/exhalation in yoga – the deep breathe in and the long breathe out to get centered and mindful for the work ahead.

Taking a winter walk, especially with kids, is a slow process. First you have to navigate the path – it’s not just the straight line from here to there. A walk to the library from our house is about 5 blocks away. In winter, with the kids, it can seemingly take forever deciding which path to take based on who does and doesn’t shovel their walk, is the snow icy or slushy, if there are any places to stop on the way. I don’t think I really ever noticed what there might be look at in winter – just focused on let’s get from here to there as fast as possible and out of the cold. I paused in my snowy tracks one afternoon when my smallest stopped, was looking down, and said, “Look mom, porcupines.”

“Porcupines in the snow.”

Of course, there are no porcupines in my neighborhood that I know of, so I stopped to look. And, there nestled in the snow was a half of a sycamore seed pod sticking out of the snow looking exactly like a porcupine. And, then a foot later I was told, “look there are more porcupines and a galeeri (the Urdu word for squirrel)” and when I proceeded to look, there was another sycamore seed pod sticking out of the snow and the “squirrel” found was the brown oak leaves still attached to the branch slowly moving in the slight breeze looking very similar to a squirrel’s tail.

The walk continued and there were more discoveries on the way. The quick walk I wanted was slow and cold, but became very interesting with my daughter’s findings and observations. There were other seed pods (“mom what are those animals?”), footprints of dogs and various little animals (“there is a bear here, he is going to a bear cave” she very interested in bears and their caves after Yosemite), a few snowmen, a lost mitten (“someone has cold hands”), and one lost sock (no comment about that). We dropped off the library books, and then had hot chocolate at a small café, which was a wonderful reward after this winter adventure.

So, while it slowly warms up and everyone will soon be zipping around and playing in the green grass and hot summer sun, slow down and enjoy the winter walk – you might be surprised at the small wonders of going slowly as you prepare for the seasons ahead.

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