Have you ever noticed how different people have different perceptions of the world?
Some people see a clear blue sky and say, “Why yes, it’s clear blue, but that only means my kids are going to want to do something outside and I have 18 reports to write, a cat to wash, food to cook for my neighbors and now I’m going to have to stop everything and find the darn sunscreen.”
Other people, however, see a blue sky and get all excited: “I can’t believe the sky is blue. Woo hoo!!!” (The three exclamation points are intentional, they are just that happy.) They sing, traipsing through the day as if it’s the first time they’ve ever seen blue.
Okay, the first set of people has a lot on their plates and I think we all get that way from time to time.
The second set of people is just annoying.
But I am here to tell you about a mysterious third set of those who walk amongst us.
They who shall be known as “That blue sure is a pretty color. And see those dark clouds over there? What a beautiful shade of Payne’s Grey; wouldn’t it be wonderful if we had a good storm….”people.
My mother has been the reigning queen of that secret society for as long as I can remember.
If prodded, my brother will tell you of a time when he was a child and my mother comforted him during a storm in New Orleans. Mom took him to a window and pointed out the various degrees of darkness of the clouds, the leaves twirling around in the wind, and the neighbor’s huge oak tree swaying in the rain. Wasn’t the storm wonderful, she asked my brother? Didn’t he agree? Right then, the tree split in two and destroyed a house, a garage and blocked a street. My brother did not appreciate the irony.
I’m writing this Tuesday afternoon and the electricity has just come back on after almost three hours without. Although somewhat fun, I must admit, being without electricity is way more enjoyable to remember fondly once the lights are back on.
Snow, ice, or mixed precipitation has already been off and on in the forecast a few times this year.
The mere idea of impending snow has my mother practically dancing. Her voice lilts when she talks and she just can’t stay still for the possibilities.
And, in case you don’t know, the possibilities are endless.
My mother was nearly joyous throughout all Tuesday afternoon.
As she sat in front of the “lovely gas fire,” she wondered aloud as to what we would roast on it for dinner, if it came to that.
She became rather excited trying to decide if the oil from hot dogs would be an issue if dripping onto the fire. Too bad the marshmallows had been sent away that afternoon. But that was okay, she added, they weren’t big enough to really roast, she may just need to get some others.
I began to visualize the three of us, my mother, stepfather and I, with coat hanger-speared hotdogs or marshmallows huddled in front of the gas fireplace in my parents’ semi-formal living room. The coats and hats we would don would be a dandy match for our fingerless gloves, and we would crouch against each other, against the cold, ready to catch the next boxcar train for the South.
My mother pointed to the trees in the back yard, how beautiful all the branches were, strewn about. Wasn’t winter wonderful? Look at the different shades of green. And did I smell the pine? The permeating scent of evergreen? What a wonderful fragrance. (She says wonderful a lot.)
I nodded my head in simple reply. Earlier that day, I had left my car at work because I was concerned to park it at her house, due to the rather large number of big branches that had iced over, cracked and fallen.
“Yes, Mother,” I smiled. “I noticed. I’m allergic to evergreens.”
That my mother does not remember this does not surprise me. She would have made a note of it if I had at some point shown her the beautiful yellow shade of my off-brand Zyrtec pill, but I had forgotten to do so.
While the electricity was out, my mother realized that she missed painting, and that it was because she’d been spending too much time on electronics. She’d been doing so much on the phone, watching television, whatever, that just that moment, she had an epiphany that she wanted to paint again.
I, on the other hand, rummaged through books to read and found candles to light. I said a couple of choice words when I couldn’t figure out how to use the gas lighter thingy, and I broke into a stash of Yankee Candles that were to be Christmas gifts to some friends of mine. (To those of you who have yet to receive Christmas presents from me, you enjoyed them immensely, and uh, sorry about that.)
I am seldom in awe like a child, but then again, I have my mother to point to the newness of everything to me. I hope never to take it for granted.
I like to think of myself as a “glass is half-full” sort of person, but sometimes I completely forget that not only is the glass half full, but it’s also wet and shimmery and is extraordinarily special if I only stop and pay attention for a moment.
I guess that’s what winter is about- cleaning off the old and the beginning of new.
Our perception is our reality, and although it may be the same blue sky for everyone, it’s just how we see it, after all.