fotos: urban winter



“But for me, winter has an even greater gift to give. It comes when the sky is clear, the sun is brilliant, the trees are bare, and the first snow is yet to come. It is the gift of utter clarity. In winter, one can walk into woods that had been opaque with summer growth only a few months earlier and see the trees clearly, singly and together, and see the ground they are rooted in.”
-Parker Palmer, Let Your Life Speak

I’m trying to keep these words of Parker Palmer in mind this week as January wears on. Winter in Chicago can be mild or brutal, sometimes both in the same week. In the middle of the Chicago winter it’s hard for me to recall that feeling, just before the first snow, that feeling of shifting into a new season. In the middle of Chicago winter I get lost in the cold and the calendar. I just want it to be Spring again, now.

This week I’m working on recapturing the gift Winter has for me. I’m working on looking up when they sky is clear and the sun brilliant, and in the midst of the snow and slush I will reach for those bare trees and recall the feel of my fingers in the soil, the ground in which I’m rooted.

Spring will come with time.


“Lars and the Real Girl” : on Perspective and Precipitation


“I was hoping winter was over” Lars says.

“No,” Margo replied, “it’s just a thaw. Winter isn’t over until Easter”

This morning as I drove through the slush left over from the snow accumulations of the Midwest snow storm everyone called “Hercules,” I was struck by the balmy feel of the day; 34 degrees and a light sprinkle of rain was falling. It was a quick turnaround for us, the snow only living on the ground about a week or so. It was a thaw. We’ll get another cold snap, another snow, before too long.

Not long ago, I watched the film, “Lars and the real girl” twice in a week. I’m usually late to the table when it comes to movies. We don’t get out as much as we used to and when we do get out my husband and I find ourselves drifting through the crowded list of “things to do” and “things to see.” We often have to throw a (metaphorical) dart at the board to decide what gets our attention at those moments because there is so much out there. It must have been the dart throwing that led us to miss this film back in 2007 but then a few months ago, Netflix began to  suggest it to me. I ignored it but Netflix was persistent and then one night when Dave was out I gave in and watched it finally. I drank in the quirky of it, the lovely of it, the wonderful package of it all when taken together. When Dave got home a few days later I insisted he watch it. “You’ll love it,” I said. I sat and watched it with him and he did. I might watch it again tomorrow. I love it that much. Really.

And a line from the movie came back to me as I waded through the melting snow, through the pond sized puddles on my patio, through the shrinking blackened icy snow banks that resided still between the curb and the sidewalk. It’s just a thaw.

Sure enough, the weather’s meant to grow colder this week. Snow is forecast again reminding me that winter is still going strong here in the midwest. It’s strange how our perception of things changes depending on how far out we look from the window or the dashboard and the calendar. In the middle of grief or fear or even joy, it’s hard to know that the seasonal cycle of life keeps rotating for as long as we breathe. It’s hard to remember when the snow falls that it will also, eventually melt, giving way to soft earth, warming sun, trees budding and blooming.

It’s just a thaw but it’s a thaw when we needed it most. Maybe that’s what the momentary winter thaw is for, after all.

missive: warm

Dear one

Whenever the weather turns warm I think of you.

I think of the earth inside of you beginning its thaw. Long held beliefs and fears live inside of you. They are like a child who is frightened wrapping her arms tightly to keep safe. When the winter comes, she turns to ice, she turns to stone.

But whenever the weather turns warm I think of you and the earth inside you beginning its thaw.

I imagine that child feeling the wind on her face. It is not the cold chill of winter,  the fiery frost of freezing but rather the air of hope that blows in from somewhere in the deep south, from an island in the ocean that knows nothing of fear.

I imagine the earth inside you letting go, loosening its grip, sinking back into your cells, your skin, your hair and then you are no longer stone, no longer ice. You are rich and clean and waiting for the first signs of life to spring up within you. You are the garden, you are the sapling, you are the leaves unfolding and beckoning the sun.

Whenever the weather turns warm I think of you and I’m reminded of the hope of spring, the hope that life begins again and again no matter how cold the winter.

don’t forget-


Mrs M


winter solstice…

Tonight being the Winter Solstice, the longest night of the year I thought long and hard about what to write. It is important for me to disclose that this deep and thoughtful pondering was wedged in there between brain functions pertaining but not limited to: homeschooling, christmas preparations, mediating children’s arguments, various and sundry YouTube video watching. The best I can offer up at this point is to recount to you a story, a true story.

About two years ago I was at Target at the Winter solstice. It was nearing dark and I was nearing desperation because I was not done shopping. In a last-ditch effort to finish up I braved the cold and the dark and the crazy shoppers. I pulled into a hard-fought parking space and sat in my car for a minute or seven. I do that. I have to steel myself before entering stores because I hate to shop that much.

As I sat there, working up the courage and looking over my poorly drawn list I saw a woman sitting in her car in the next row over. I reasoned that perhaps she was getting up her courage as well. In the next minute she quickly exited her car and closed the door. Then she proceeded to brush crumbs from the front of her coat. She brushed off her coat and then she unzipped her coat and brushed off her sweater. As she did this crumbs fell from her sweater and coat continuously. This went on for like 3 or 4 minutes and crumbs just kept falling. At one point she pulled her sweater away from her body and jumped up and down a little and sure enough more crumbs found their way to the parking lot. When she was through she looked around, zipped up her coat and walked into the store. Shortly thereafter a flock of pigeons came along and cleaned up the evidence.

This was by far one of the best pre shopping scenes I’ve witnessed and one I puzzled over for a long time. I didn’t know what to do with this visual. I kicked myself for not getting my phone out and shooting it. All I had was my memory and so I did the next best thing. I wrote a poem about it. I made some creative alterations but you get the point I think.

So, happy Winter Solstice, friends…enjoy the darkness, enjoy the light-

solstice to solstice

I would be assuming a great deal in saying

that the woman who leapt from her car

into that frozen day

as I watched from the

warm confinement of my vehicle

was, in fact,

doing some kindness

for the birds

wintering there,

in the parking lot

of the grocery store,

shaking out her coat

and littering the asphalt

with enough crumbs

to sustain them all

from solstice to solstice.