Friday Five: Signs That Winter is Coming to a Close



With February coming to a close, we can begin to see signs of spring. Although the signs are different in different areas, this part of the world has a few of its own. The following are the ones I’ve observed recently:


  1. Commuting is now done during daylight hours. No longer do I travel country roads in the dark.
  2. Skunks are seen and smelled. Mostly this is due to wandering on the road, but generally, this critter doesn’t appear until the end of winter.
  3. The sounds of songbirds. There is nothing like the sound of a bird singing and a balmy breeze in February to make a person impatient for spring.
  4. Fluctuation in temperatures. Although this winter has had its ups and downs, the highs are higher as February draws to a close.
  5. Each snow storm that appears on the horizon is determined to be the “last one” of this winter. Of course, this is Michigan and while there are rumors of snow in July (I’ve never seen it), having snow on Mother’s Day is not far outside the realm of possibilities.

Are there any I missed? For myself, I look eagerly at each black feathered bird trying to see the red spots on the wings. Redwing blackbirds are often the first avian’s to arrive in this area, even before the more traditional Robins.

What are your favorite signs of spring?

The Privilege of Encouragement


Do you remember as a child being so excited about something and some well-meaning adult spoke a few less than positive words? Do you remember that feeling of your hope crushed like a balloon releasing all of its air as a pin breaches the rubber?

I do.

I remember several times throughout my childhood where I gave up before I even started.

One was during 8th-grade parent-teacher conferences and when the counselor asked what I wanted to be when I grew up. When I replied either a veterinarian or a lawyer. The response I received was I’d better learn to like chemistry, which I hated, or I would not be able to do that. I am neither a vet or an attorney today. And, I never took a chemistry class.

Another time I expressed that I wanted to be a writer. The response? You have to have a job to pay the bills. I have the job that pays the bills, and I am a writer. Go figure!

Each of these instances (and there were probably more) stands out in my mind as life altering events. Neither of them large when looking from the outside.

The inside is another matter.

I immediately decided that I wouldn’t be able to be a veterinarian because I didn’t like science. The thought that I wouldn’t be able to stand the sight of blood or seeing animals in pain didn’t come into play until years later.

Being a writer was something else. I didn’t know anyone who made their living as a writer although one of my classmates father was a writer. I didn’t make the connection that I could do that.

The belief that writing is a job just like any other at never entered my mind. I just assumed that writing was for a hobby, but the “real” work of life had to be the drudgery of a 40-hour work week. This type of work pays the bills but is soul killing.

My writer’s group sponsors an annual writing competition for young writers. It’s called ‘Write Out of Hibernation’ and is for the local high school kids.

This year I have the privilege of being one of the judges. I even volunteered for this.

Although I haven’t begun the process of reading through the entries, I feel the weight of my task.

These young writers have poured their soul’s onto the page and have opened themselves up. Each hopes to win though only three can. It has to be difficult.

Each of these young people is braver than I am as I struggle with submitting my work.

I have a chance to encourage someone to follow their dream. A chance to live a fuller life. A chance to encourage each of them in ways that I wasn’t.

I hope I am up to the task.

What have you done to encourage someone today?

Seeking the Light

sunlight-867222_1280This weekend has been beautiful. The sun was out and the sky was blue. Even the temperature cooperated and reached high enough that coats weren’t necessary.

For those affected with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), this is a wonderful tonic. For the rest of us who are simply tired of winter or just plain tired, the sun is a balm to the soul.

I find myself seeking the light. Not enough to do much more than turn my face to the sun but I feel the warmth down to my toes.

The juices have begun to flow again, much like the maple trees in which the sap will begin to run shortly and we will see trees tapped for that sweet gold, and I can hardly contain myself.

As I sit in my writing shed looking out over the fields and farm, I find myself wanting to play in the dirt. I find myself dreaming of planting my garden. This is a shared trait among those who play in the dirt. I can already taste the vegetables that will grow this summer. Patience is the only requirement now. Planting too soon will only result in failure.

Many things in life are like this. Change comes slowly and all things happen in their own time. I forget this lesson sometimes.

As I feel myself coming out of the darkness, I forget that I must be patient with myself. I forget that healing comes slowly. Seeing this light makes me want to go full speed into the next big adventure of my life, but I must slow myself down. I don’t want to go trip myself up.

As with my garden, I will dream and make plans, deciding which seeds to plant and which box to put them in. In my own life, I will dream and plant seeds, patiently waiting for them to grow.

My husband became inspired by the weather also and began some yard tasks that will come to fruition later this year. Even the beast got in on the action and didn’t want to come inside, no matter how many times she was called. IMG_0826

Apparently I’m not the only one who is looking forward to the return of the light.

In the meantime, this balmy weather has been fabulous and I will enjoy it as much as I can, knowing that winter isn’t quite over. Spring is coming and I will soon be complaining about the heat. As much as I don’t want to do that, it happens. Every year!!!

Nothing stays the same and that is a good thing.