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Opportunity to Cherish

Moons phase through, the sun rises and falls, and stars watch as central Pennsylvania becomes blanketed by fine white snow. Birds flutter away, others take their place. Plants change their tone and water solidifies.

And while some curl up and await the re-opening of the skies, others bundle up knowing they will weather the weather whatever the weather, whether they like it or not. Because there is something priceless about the discomforts of winter. Simple pleasures, such as stamping your feet and returning to a warm kitchen, feel incomparable to anything else. They are cherished moments. Listening to the audible silence of snow; that is a cherished moment. Skating on a moonlit lake, catching snowflakes on your tongue, tucking your chin into a fuzzy scarf, embracing a loved one to stay warm, these are all important moments.Then there are more complex pleasures, such as the bending of a fern under crystals of ice, or the endearing poof of a songbird’s plumage in the cold. The natural world compensates, but does so effortlessly, causing me to pause and wonder if we too can ease into the season’s challenges with grace.

This is my first winter in Pennsylvania, and it has floored me. Zero degrees Fahrenheit is a comical number to me; slipping on an invisible sheet of ice and falling on my face is comical to me. These are new experiences, but what I am noticing is that I value the experiences nonetheless. They provide contrast and perspective, making it easier for me view each day as an adventure.

The warmth of a first spring day would be muted were it not for the icy winter chills. That first green shoot would not look nearly as green if it did not contrast against the whiteness of snow and the glisten of frost. Similarly, that first fall breeze would not feel as crisp if it didn’t play against the stillness of hot summer nights. I have lived in places where seasons melt together, and every change is subtle. This has value on its own, but this year I have come to appreciate the obviousness of the seasons that exists in central PA.

It never hurts to remind ourselves how unable we are to affect seasons. And there is where the beauty lies. Seasons truly are the world’s consistent tides, the illustration of change. They will roll over us whether we choose it or not, and we can spend our time awaiting a different sky, or fluff out our feathers and hop along with the change.