Saturday, December 10, 2016

Holiday Warmth

Holidays can focus harsh light on our relationships with others. The season sometimes becomes a time when it is hard to please and easy to slight even those who are closest to us. Feelings can be on edge during the season and seeking out perfection that is impossible to achieve is often part of the problem.

Old age and the soft light of a few winter sunsets in the marsh have taught me that life is not about the things you accumulate in life but about the connections you make and how well you nurture them. Life is mostly about relating to the people in your life.  It is not an impossible task but you cannot relate to others if you do not communicate with them and understand their lives.

Our personalities have not escaped the people who have touched our lives over the years. Our lives are defined not only by our parents and relatives, but also by those friends with whom we have chosen to spend our time. The best friends and family are those who accept you as you are. To them the thickness of your wallet matters little. How you treat them is what matters most.

Those folks whose money and toys are more important than their friends fortunately easily disappear into the hustle and bustle of the season only to emerge at the other end not even understanding what they have missed.  It is good to be with people who love others because they have taken time to get to know each other.  The values and feelings of all the people that have influenced us provide us with ways to relate to others.

Unfortunately not everyone shares the same values and even among those who do, feelings are handled in different ways.  We have all had to walk on egg shells at times to keep a good relationship going. Often during the holidays, giving others space and the benefit of the doubt can make the difference between good feelings and hard feelings.

Time has become the most valuable gift of all. No one has enough time, but patience is a gift that we all need to give during this season.  When we take the time to listen and appreciates the lives and concerns of others, we enrich our own lives and expand the circle of connections that make us truly human.

I always look forward to the holidays because it is a time of renewal and new paths to be taken.  Conversations seem harder to have in our constantly-connected world of smartphones and tablets, but we cannot give up trying because there will come a holiday season when the person you wanted to talk to is no longer there.  That conversation with them might have been the missing piece in your circle of life.

I always take the risk during the holidays that the phone call I make could be one that warms someone's heart and brightens my day.  I am rarely disappointed.

Sunday, January 31, 2016

The Fuzzy Light of Winter

Darkness comes early in winter and with the setting sun there are colors to tease the mind. Living on the North Carolina coast means that light gets to play even more tricks because water is everywhere and our complex waters reflect the light in ways that are almost bewitching.

Sometimes just before dusk our sounds and rivers will spring alive with golden hues mixed with rich blues. The colors are such that you wonder if you eyes are seeing things correctly.  Just to make things more intriguing, the colors change rapidly as the sun starts slipping below the horizon.

It reminds me most of the Northern Lights that we used to see on late night trips back to our farm in Tay Creek, New Brunswick.  Northern Lights that close to the United States-Canada border are so ephemeral that you are almost positive that you never saw them.  The quick changes in colors in a coastal sunset and the lingering doubts that you saw what you saw are the same as with Northern Lights.

Winter on the coast is a fuzzy time in itself.  It is rarely winter but not quite spring and you know fall has already slipped away.  Our crocus patch started blooming in December and we picked our last tomatoes on January 17, but it is still too cold to plant spring lettuce or onions.  Just as the fading light cannot decide whether to be blue, gold or something in between, our seasons often go off course as winter becomes spring and spring falls back to winter.

This year even the birds were confused.  Our bird feeder went begging except for chickadees for nearly all of January.  Now as spring is just around the corner and winter's back is destined to be broken, the birds have decided to come back.  Now the marsh is alive with chirping and birds zooming from one tree to another.

Fortunately the indecision that wraps itself in our winter is never fatal but it does slow our response to the warm days of February.  The memory of the dampness and the chill of winter can cause a hesitation in tackling the adventures to search for the real signs of spring that tell us that the first fruit of the season is not far away.

Even spring can be unsure of itself as winter lingers around the edges of the not yet warmed waters of the marsh.  Last year at the end of March much like a few years earlier, a late but hard frost killed many of our tomato plants even as they were protected with pots and ready to ride the steep curve of warmth that sometimes tries to roast us along the coast well before the heat of mid-summer.

Then with the late frost just a memory,  all of sudden the water is ready for us and spring is here but even then before we know it our evening light is often blurred in the humidity that rarely leaves until fall.  The coastal seasons themselves are sometimes just as fuzzy as the last light of winter.

The good news is that the changes in light and weather make for some great photos and interesting years as we cope with life here on the sandy edges of North Carolina.  With weather that borders on being a riddle but is sometimes so nice that it should be bottled,  our coastal paradise is a great place to be a photographer especially if you can handle all the photos that demand to be taken.

Visit my Amazon author page to check out our books, especially our travel guide to this unique part of the world.  Sign up for my almost monthly newsletter about the Crystal Coast at this page.