Wednesday’s Words of Wisdom (and Whimsy)

Posted on February 23, 2022 under Wednesday’s Words of Wisdom with no comments yet



Tom’s final snowshoeing trip to Mt. Washington – January, 2019


“And into the forest I go to lose my mind and find my soul.” John Muir

Today’s menu on WWOW features hodge podge, which means that this piece will be all over the map.

By all objective standards, February in Nova Scotia has not been ideal for outdoor activities. The temperature had whipsawed day after day from frigid to mild. Heavy snowfalls were often followed by rain, a big melt, flooding and then flash freezes. This has brought treacherous walking conditions and has made things like cross country skiing and snowshoeing less than pleasant. Those of us old enough to remember, recall winters starting in November and ending in late April with mountains of snow.

Last week, after a heavy snowfall of powdery snow, I was out in our parking lot helping the crew get ready for the arrival of the plow. Some of us clean off all the windows of the vehicles while others shovel snow away from the wheels. Then we wait for the plow and move all the cars out onto the street. It is a carefully choreographed dance.

One of my neighbors opined that it was a perfect day for snowshoeing. I haven’t been on snowshoes in a few years- January of 2019 to be exact.  It was such a spectacular morning that I agreed to go with her to Beaver Mountain Park that afternoon.

I have discovered that there are some things that I can describe without any difficulty. However, when you walk into a forest under brilliant sunshine on a cold, crisp afternoon, with snow caressing the branches, it is almost too much to take in. It is the definition of perfection. We didn’t talk a lot, but we did take breaks occasionally so that the old fellow could catch his breath. Although I’m in pretty good shape from walking 10Km every day this month, snowshoeing is much more strenuous. We both felt a deep sense of gratitude that we were healthy enough (and unemployed enough!) to witness the grandeur of nature.

Less than forty-eight hours later, the conditions changed dramatically. The temperature rose to 11 above with high winds and heavy rains. In order to keep my commitment to walk 10km every day in February, I knew that this wouldn’t be the easiest walk. However, I have discovered that attitude plays a big role in most endeavors. Some of us are very lucky. We have the choice to be happy or miserable. Many are not so fortunate. Physical infirmities, poor mental health, abusive relationships, insecure employment can make it very hard to put on a brave face.

Having done marathon training for years, you can’t let weather dictate your training schedule especially if you have a running partner with the ferocity of a pit bull. I never dared to not show up for a training run in inclement weather.

I looked outside and determined that it would be a warm walk and that I would get wet. Now, I kidded myself by taking an umbrella. Those of you who live on the west coast realize that an umbrella is as essential as oxygen especially at this time of the year. It reminded me of a golf trip I took to Ireland 20 years ago. I was playing at a famous course and on that day, there were hurricane force winds and torrential rain. We were obliged to have a caddy and as we were about to step out into the elements, I started to unfurl my umbrella. The caddy turned to me and said, “Aye, MacDonald. You won’t be needing that today”. It might have been great for Mary Poppins buy futile on a golf course on a day such as this. I have a pretty good memory. After that round of golf, our golf crew boarded our private 12-person passenger van, that came equipped with a driver, to drive to the next destination. We stopped at a liquor outlet and one of the guys went in and purchased a bottle of very expensive Irish whiskey. I had my guitar with me and for the next few hours, the bottle was passed around as I dragged our every Irish song I knew. We managed to find the bottom of that bottle by the time we reached our hotel.

I put on my “positive attitude” face and went out to embrace the elements.

Often, I feel lucky. I am one of the few brave people (nuts) who will willingly go out on such a miserable day. Invariably, I will try and reframe the situation by singing. Once I was suitably wet, I started humming that old Roger Miller classic:

“Walkin’ in the sunshine, sing a little sunshine song,

Put a smile upon your face as if there’s nothing wrong,

Think about forgetting about your worries and your woes,

Walkin’ in the sunshine, sing a little sunshine song.”

La la la la la de ho,

Whether the weather be rain or snow,

Pretending can make it real,

A snowy pasture, a green and grassy field.”

I have always sought out the company of positive people. If you want to find one quickly, just look for people who are inveterate walkers. To a person, these are folks who “accentuate the positive”. They tend to be grateful people who realize how lucky they are to be able to walk. They know that the walk, regardless of the weather, will be good for their physical and mental wellbeing.

Last weekend, I went to Halifax to visit a friend. We decided to get dressed up. Well, at least ONE of us decided to get dressed up. I don’t own many fancy clothes and I thought a kilt in February might not be appropriate. It became crystal clear to me that in the minds of many, Covid was over. I tried to reserve a table at five well known eateries in the city and unless we wanted to dine at 10:00 p.m., there was no room at the inn. I lucked out when I called Il Mercato in Bedford. At the precise moment that I called the restaurant, they had just received a cancellation.

I will spare you with all the mundane details of the meal except to say that the Mercato has excellent tiramisu. I judge a restaurant by the quality of its desserts.The company, food and service were all excellent. What I noticed most, was the unfettered joy in the room. For the first time in two years, things felt normal. The restaurant was very busy, but all current Covid protocols were still in place. With the recent easing of some restrictions in Nova Scotia, capacity limits had been increased. The place was full. There was music playing in the background. Couple were holding hands. There was laughter galore. Someone was having a birthday and we could hear them being serenaded at a distant table. It seemed like every single person in the establishment was smiling with the possible exception of the wait staff. It was difficult to ascertain. They were wearing black masks! I don’t know about you, but I hope to never take dining out for granted again. It felt amazing.

As a sidebar, the hotel where I was staying was completely booked. It took me a while to find a parking spot at the end of the night.

Is it possible that our global nightmare is finally coming to a close?

As many of you know, I have been posting some podcasts recently produced by my talented son, Peter. While the uptake hasn’t set any podcast records, there are many of you that were quite interested and asked us to finish the 10-episode series. Episode 6 was posted on Sunday and is one of my personal favourites. I am frequently asked about the genesis of my Week45 webpage. This episode talks about this along with timeshares and time well spent on Florida’s Gulf Coast. There are some musical clips and lots of great photos, compliments of Pete. Check it out if you have 30 minutes.

I’m in my final week of DryFeb. If you would like to make a donation to the Canadian Cancer Society, I have included the link. Tax receipts are issued. In addition to eschewing the bottle for the month of February, I have been walking to honor the memory of my late brother Tom. As of today, I have walked 250 kilometers with 50km more to go to reach my goal of 300 km.

Have a great weekend.

P.S. I felt compelled to add this blog post from a man who died recently. He asked his daughter to post it after his death. It is a long read but filled with so much wisdom. While it is tinged with sadness for sure, it is also very inspiring. Lessons for all of us.

Enjoy this? Visit the rest of my website to enjoy more of my work or buy my books!
Tri Mac Toyota!

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