Beauty blooms in January

“Beauty is so quietly woven through our ordinary days that we hardly notice it. Everywhere there is tenderness, care and kindness there is beauty.”

-John O’Donohue
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Perhaps it was a little crazy to take on a hospice cat over the holidays, or was it?

I was asking that potentially depressing question to a friend earlier this week since my husband passed away in hospice right after Christmas a few years ago.

On this gloomy bitter cold Sunday I’ve been watching Mr. Bojangles curl up on a cozy cat bed right beside me.

And I’ve actually been finding myself smiling.

Mr. Bojangles is holding his head up high, but not quite as high as he did when he first joined me.

Still he does so with grace.

Sure the fellow’s estimated to have only 2-5 months left at this point, but who really knows when our time is up anyway.

Three days ago Mr. Bojangles had stopped eating and didn’t seem to be drinking water. Yet by the next evening, I discovered he was back in the game.

However, it’s clear his appetite isn’t what it once was no matter the type of food given.

I’ve also noticed Mr. Bojangles is moving a bit slower, still every step he takes is deliberate. Though I no longer find him climbing the stairs to join the dogs up in the kitchen for breakfast.

Instead he prefers I join him in his private room and hold him as he tenderly takes in every flake of his tuna meals.

It seems Mr. Bojangles likes this extra one on one time.

I do know that I love providing him the extra attention he deserves along with some extra warm blankets.

Mid January can be especially cruel here in the upper midwest and this week has been no different.

Sub zero temperatures, icy roads with 20 car pile ups, and what looked like the loss of my hospice cat 3 days ago was beginning to play havoc with my soul.

Yet as I smell my beef stew now simmering in the crock pot while watching fresh snowflakes dance out the window to the sounds of that hospice cat still purring softly, I know it still is a beautiful world.

Yes, even in January.

Red, white, and very blue

Poor little Junie B’s been trying to keep a stiff upper lip with our daily below zero temps.

But after two weeks of the stuff, she finally put her paw down this morning.

She barked something about not coming out of the covers until we’re waving the red, white, and blue next July.

“But Junie B., I just heard the weather folks say we could actually see temps in the 20s tomorrow.”

“And that’s ABOVE zero!”

Skeptical as always, my girl let out a tiny growl as she settled back in for another long winter’s nap.

I wasn’t surprised in the least.

After all, Junie B.’s quite the little firecracker.

Living in the moment

So what if I live in a state recognized for having the most miserable winters, and there’s snow everywhere?

This morning our sky is blue, the sun strong, and the temps are above freezing.

“Carpe diem,” I proclaim to the petite four legged pack before me, tossing each a toasty treat as I leave my house for work.

And fortunately I’ve packed a treat just for me.

I’ve built in a special 20 minute detour.

It’s just enough time to take a quick walk by the lake.

After parking my car, I cross a bridge to an empty, yet sandy beach.

Sure, the sand’s buried deep below the white stuff, but just knowing it’s there makes me smile.

Walking forward I notice the concession stand’s empty. There are no long lines for the cold sodas and hot dogs listed on the red weather beaten sign.

Still a chilled, yet warm bicyclist races by giving me a friendly wave while speeding towards the middle of the frozen lake.

“Why the rush?” I ask, too late for him to hear.

Probably to join the ice fishermen I figure, continuing my march down towards the water.

I cut through a small park on the beach, admiring a little blue boat.

The tiny boat brings back memories of kids, canines, and camera shots.

With hopes for more of the same in the months ahead.

I then notice someone’s dragged a picnic table to meet the frozen shoreline. I move towards it and climb on top of the table.

I pull out a still steaming thermos of french roast from my backpack.

I take a sip, and briefly close my eyes.

I feel the sun on my cheeks.

I hear the quiet.

And I find myself thankful to be living in this moment.

Especially in January.