Nature combats January blues

January is the month in which people most commonly suffer from sadness.
It’s certainly the time when depressing questions tend to cycle around in my head: Will I sell articles this month? What will the future hold? What about that waterline that keeps freezing?
The only way I’m able to clear this mental chatter is to take simple moments to focus on the positive. And one of these moments is my early-morning ritual outdoors.
Each day at the first flickering of light in the sky, I listen and watch for my cue. When it happens, I slip on soft-lined rubber boats and furry mitts before I step out onto our deck.
I’m about to be part of something perfect.
There, in a blackened old birch and its neighbouring white pine, waits a stunning sight—a flock of about 50 pine grosbeaks as cheery as the fruits of Florida. The females are either peach or orange while the males are apple red.
They chip and chirp away at my habit of taking life too seriously. As they flood down in chorus, I feel free.
The cue that puts the magic in motion is the fluting I hear while still indoors, or a bird that lands early in anticipation of the seed I’m about to spread.
As with any perfect moment, it’s important to be alert.
I believe that the habit of openness to the splendor that surrounds us is amazingly powerful for creating long-term well-being, no matter what difficulties arise through life.
Two of my mentors, in particular, have taught me this lesson. They are both aunts, and each has Alzheimer’s. What makes them special, however, is the light within them to “understand” beauty—even though their cognitive functions are darkened by a very nasty disease.
Each of my aunts is very unique, but what they have in common is that they are practised participants when it comes to watching and listening for small wonders. This poetic habit has created an “essence” in them that can’t be stolen.
Spiritual leaders have called this kind of power sacred. It’s comes from creating a good and peaceful way of life (also called Mino-Pi-Mati-Si-Win).
I hope that whatever questions you are faced with this January that you will find time to be captivated a moment of splendor. Maybe it will involve a flock of birds. Or maybe it’s a realization about a loved one.
Whatever it is, the simplicity of it might surprise you.
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For next week’s column, I’d like to explore the rituals people have with nature.
Tell me yours by e-mailing me at

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