113: Balance

(Tea time.)

Yesterday I mentioned that I love to cook but don’t like to bake.  There are far too many rules in baking whereas cooking allows me to unleash my creativity, adding a pinch of this, a dash of that, and a handful of something else.  When I was homebrewing, I made my beers the same way.  There are, of course, some rules that must be followed.  And some tastes that don’t mix well.  In cooking there is a balance between the rules and creativity or individuality.

There is also balance in my home and kitchen.  M likes to bake so we balance each other out in that regard.  He makes fantastic breads.  He even learned how to make gluten-free breads when I went gluten-free.  Sourdough gluten-free breads.  It doesn’t get much better than that, let me tell you.  (Note:  I am no longer living the gluten-free lifestyle, but I still don’t include many wheat products in my diet anymore.  I feel better that way.)

Yesterday M made the fig bars you see in the above photo.  I thought they might make a good subject for my food photography experiments.  The photo needs a spot of color, I think.  Or something.  I dunno.  It doesn’t look quite… finished.

Something to ponder

I was reading an article about skiing in the December issue of Yoga Journal last night.  (I’m a little behind in my magazine reading.)  In a section about cross-country skiing, the author wrote:

Balance is not something you achieve and hold on to.  It’s more ephemeral; it’s a string of temporary successes, held momentarily, lost, and then discovered again.  Skiing gives you a fleeting experience of balance with each shift of weight and each glide.  But it’s not permanent.  When you lose it, you just have to have faith that you’ll come back to it.

~ Carmel Wroth, “Cold Play,” Yoga Journal, December 2010

I like it.  I like that it can be applied to life as well as skiing.  The yoga poses included with these words of wisdom are a bonus.  I’m going to give them a try.

Today’s Outdoor Adventures

We’re approaching the time of year when it feels like winter is weighing heavily upon us.  Mid-January.  Then the dreaded February comes along, the longest short month of the season.

(Weighing down the wood pile.)

Although I mean heavy in a figurative sense, there are some literal meanings as well.  Getting dressed to go outside takes time and effort.  You have to put on a couple of pounds of layers and boots.  Hats.  Gloves.  Even so, the cold manages to find any vulnerable spots and slip inside the poundage of layers.

(Buried in layers of snow.)

Walking is more difficult.  The snow seems to weigh you down as you trudge through the drifts that are almost waist high.  It’s a relief to find the spots where the wind has thinned the snow layer.

(Animal tracks across the pond.)

Today has been mostly gray.  The flurries continue but with little accumulation.  It’s in the 20’s and windy.  I did not want to step outside.

(Today’s view of the pond.)

The original plan was to wait until late afternoon and go skiing.  Then I decided I better not wait.  I knew waiting would result in me not going at all.  So I put on all those layers.  The boots.  The hat.  The gloves.  And I stepped out into the gray and cold and blustery winds.

I didn’t intend to go far.  Just far enough and for just long enough to meet my commitment.  It was strangely quiet.  Although there was food in the feeders, there were no birds at them.  I topped off the food in the feeders and then found myself walking down the hill towards the pond.  I would go to the bottom of the hill.  No further.

I got to the bottom and my feet wanted to keep going so I continued on until I found myself standing by the creek in the woods, thinking how dull and gloomy the day was and wondering where the birds had gotten to.  Perhaps they were feeling the weight of winter too, and had decided to stay inside.

And then…

The sun came out and lit up the creek, the ice, and the snow.  Birds were chattering and cheeping and tweeting in the trees.  In a split second, the world had changed.

(The top of the creek is beginning to freeze over.)

Of course we all know the world didn’t change.  My perspective changed.  It changed enough that I was able to enjoy the rest of my walk on this wintry day.

(My tracks, heading home.)

The clouds came back and hid the sun again.  The grays grew deeper and darker.  On my way back to the house, I found this:

A little gift from Mother Nature hidden in the willows.  I must have missed it when I walked by the willows on my way to the woods.  To some, it’s just dried flowers left behind when summer and autumn moved on.  But it brightened my day almost as much as the sun’s brief appearance.  I’m not sure why.  It just did.


25 Comments on “113: Balance”

  1. Karma says:

    A thought for your food photo: how about a couple of nice, bright strawberries?

    What you say about how the sun can change your feelings about the day is so true! It changes the day from gloomy to bright, and sometimes that can make all the difference in the world. On a sunny day, I get the brightest rays of sun through my sliding glass door in the kitchen and I have been known to plop myself down on the floor and soak up as much sun as possible.

    • Robin says:

      Great idea, Karma! I didn’t think of fruit. A strawberry or maybe a raspberry might give it more interest. Thanks! I’ll have to remember that for next time. There are no do-overs with this one because we froze most of the fig bars.

      Are you part cat, Karma? lol! My cats do the same thing when the sun comes in through the window and I’ve been known to join them. Sunlight is rare this time of year. Gotta soak up all you can, when you can.

  2. Actually, that picture really shows off the pastry of the fig bars; makes me crave them. I love, love, love those wintry pictures. I live in California, in a place where the air is tempered by the bay, so I don’t get snow. I get rain and just enough chill to be uncomfy, but no snow to make it all wonderful.

  3. photobyholly says:

    What a beautiful post! I literally smiled when I saw the sunlight appear in your photos! It makes me feel the same way – when the sky is gloomy, I feel… blah…. but when the sun comes out, it’s like I feel renewed, I can feel some energy coming back (and I can imagine my boys saying, “Mama, the sun is coming out!!”)! I’m glad the sun came out for you during your walk, it would have made it worth it for me, too! I like the quote about balance, too… I made it my Facebook status (minus the part about skiing, which had no relevance for me!)!

  4. I love your snow photos, especially the creek showing the water, it gives the feeling of life under all that winter white.

  5. It sounds like you recieved a little blessing for following through. The creek picture with the sunlight is beautiful, and your writting took me right there with you.

  6. ladyfi says:

    What wonderful wintry shots!

  7. February is the longest short month here too, for the opposite reason…it’s so hot!

    The pond looks amazing, Robin. I’m starting to imagine the subtle changes which will take place as the weather warms up, after February!

    • Robin says:

      The warm-up might not be until April, Joanne. You never know around here. A few years ago the month of April started with daffodils and warm weather, and by the 4th day there was snow and the pond was freezing over again. It didn’t warm up again until May! We’ve had snow as late as May, too, but that’s unusual.

      Stay cool. And if you want to warm me up by posting about the heat, I wouldn’t mind at all. 🙂

  8. starbear says:

    This one made me smile… haven’t seen sun since the 3rd! Gray and snowy, and yet at night the moon has been aglow… Thank you for sunshine and sharing.
    ~B

  9. Kathy says:

    Gosh, reading this blog felt strangely deja-vu. Almost like I wrote a very similar blog a couple years ago during my 365 day commitment… Maybe it just reminds me of those days. I just typed these exact words to you in response to your comment: I love that balance quote, Robin. It’s perfect! (It certainly describes what happens, over and over again.)

  10. Marcie says:

    Gorgeous images..and I have to think that balance is something we are constantly striving for. It’s never easy…

  11. Marianne says:

    Robin, I too, feel the weight of winter. However, the other night, I went out after a large snowfall occurred and it was lovely. Mild, windless, and pretty. Very calming.

    • Robin says:

      I like being outside in the snow at night, Marianne. You’ve reminded me that it has been a while since I took a night walk. I should do that soon. 🙂

  12. penpusherpen says:

    I love the ‘balance’ Yoga vs life metaphor Robin, makes a lot of sense.
    Yet again, wonderful photo’s, the Wood pile and the dried flowers photo amongst my front runners, I can well understand your being brightened by seeing such a testament to Mother Natures varying degrees of weather. What was once bristling with life, is now held in repose …Wonderful..xPenx


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