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!



  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

    1. 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. 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

    1. Oh, Lulu, thank you. I’m so encouraged to hear that this encouraged *you.* One of the things that’s always made me happiest in a hard season is the hope of bringing joy to others. I wrote this in a difficult winter … And yet, here it is, making a little trail, as you say.

      I think it’s nice to be reminded that all of us can do a little good, even when we’re having a rough go of it.

      Grateful for you! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Planting little seeds (or little stakes) of goodness does warm the heart even in the coldest winter. I’m going out into my weekend with that in mind. Hope you have a wonderful and restful little break!

        Liked by 1 person

  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

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s