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Flashback: A Question, Left By a Brook …

True story?

At least three times in the past three days, someone I care about has stared straight into my eyes and said something like:  I can’t take much more of winter.

They haven’t said the words like people griping about getting caught in an afternoon rainshower. Instead, they’ve spoken with a kind of emptiness and exhaustion that I feel even now as an ache beneath my sternum.  Because I’ll tell you:  I understand.

Winter is usually an exceptionally hard season for me.  The darkness thickens into a palpable presence, and all I want to do is sleep.  But this winter, for some reason, I haven’t felt even a touch of that old sadness.  I call it grace, and ask no questions.

Still:  I remember how alone I felt this time last year.  And if you, too, are feeling overwhelmed by the gray, I thought I’d share with you a little something that made me smile, back then.

I dug around in my archives and found this post just for anyone who needs an extra touch of sunshine and warmth today… Enjoy:



January 25, 2015

I find a new park today — a small one, hugging close to a silver ribbon of a stream, one that flows cold and deep over stones.

There’s an iron bridge here that leaps in a clean arc over the water.

There’s trees and rocks.  A bench or two.

And on this rainwet afternoon, sky-bright puddles freckle the earth with blue.

Can you believe it?  This place is just five minutes from home.  It’s been here all along…



I have with me a series of tiny chalkboards attached to small wooden stakes.  There’s a message already chalked onto them, one I’ve had in mind all day:

What if
spring comes
only to remind us
that all things
begin again.

It isn’t a new idea, this one.  I remember, from the days when I first read Walden, Thoreau’s remark that Spring might well make a Christian out of any man, and I suppose that’s true.  It’s an easy time to believe in redemption, when all things, everywhere, are bursting out new.

And yet I have to tell you:  I am learning, slowly, to believe in Spring now — now, here, in the coldest month.

Which is a crazy sort of faith if there ever was one — crazy, but not blind.


I thrust the chalkboards into the wet ground — one every twenty feet or so, following the meandering of the brook.

After that, my small work done, I make my way down to the stream’s edge.

I pick my way over the rocks, close to the falls, and snap shot after shot of water rushing black-to-white.  Leap back to the shoreline and bend low, my camera close to the surface-shimmer, trying to catch its reflection as it laps against stones.

I take pictures of everything and almost nothing:  eddies.  Pebbles.  Weeds spiking the bank.  And the whole time I keep thinking:  beautiful.  Beautiful.  Beautiful…


I don’t know when it happened, exactly, but sometime in the last few weeks I began to see beauty again.

For the longest time I thought winter was just nothing but a slow wet stretch of ice and ugliness, constant black-and-white drear.

Lately, though, my eyes have become attuned to the monochrome of this season, and – just as it was when I first began shooting in black-and-white – I’m finding myself seeing, as if for the first time, quieter forms of beauty that were here all along.

I see frost luminous on tufts of grass.

I see new growth shining flame-red on the tips of twigs.

I see sky-colors caught in puddles.

Did you catch what I said?  This beauty that I’m talking about … This beauty was here all along.





I stand up in the middle of the stream, realizing suddenly that my fingers are too frozen to take any more pictures.

Which is all right — really — I have enough.

I scroll through what I’ve taken, thinking:  Enough.  Enough.

And it is enough.  More beauty than I need to fill my heart for one more day, at least. I walk back to my car.  Drive away, thinking again of my message:

What if spring comes
only to remind us
that all things
begin again?


And for the first time I realize that this thing beginning again — right here in the cold and the dark — is me. ❤        


This post is part of the Secret Messages Project.  Every day for thirty days, I left my words in places where they might be found — or might never be found at all.  If you like what you see, read more!



33 thoughts on “Flashback: A Question, Left By a Brook …

  1. Beauty is always there, all around us, every day, it’s just that we need to open our eyes and embrace it. Just as you did. A beautiful post, signifying hope, transition, renewal and what lies just beyond. Spring will be with you soon enough. Lovely insightful writing, as usual. xo

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yes! We do that too. It’s the absolute best time for a Florida vacation. 🙂

      In the absence of that: bright flowers on my windowsill, long walks in the sun and lots of good people always seems to help me, too.

      Stay warm! 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Ines says:

    I’m happy for you that this Winter you didn’t go through that! I experienced this for the first time on the Winter of 2014 and this year wasn’t much better. I feel Nov-Dec-Jan are is the worst period, thankfully by February everything starts to get better 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. These words speak to a place deep in my heart, and I wonder if they speak to a place deep in the heart of us all. I thought too many thoughts while reading to even begin to tell you, but here is something… the way you left your signs, as if laying a little trail, is the same way that you lay a little trail with your photography and your writing. Thank you for paving the way bravely.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. This was such a great read! You are a Beauty in Nature Activist!! I have a 5 year old laptop with tons of pictures. I need to be sharing them!! You have re-inspired me. I still enjoy the beauty but forgot how much people need to see it!! I am following you!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Ever so true. I’ve traveled and lived in so many countries you wouldn’t believe. And once in Paris, on my ritual summer “return”, I was looking at the murky water of the Seine, with Notre-Dame somewhere in the background, and it hit me: All my life I’d sought Beauty at the end of the worlds… not seeing that I had it right here, at my feet, below the bridge. (Pont de l’Archevêché). In Paris. (sigh) 😉

    Liked by 1 person

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