It's a double-sock, warm sweater, scarf-wearing kind of day here. Cold! (Or as least as cold as it ever really gets in my corner of the world.)
Hard frost has dressed the landscape in white lace and diamonds and ground mist rises to wrap it in a gauzy white scarf. For a few brief moments after it appeared over the shoulder of the mountain, the sun, shining through the mist, painted the clear sky a pale lemon yellow. It's faded to the palest blue now: beautiful in a way that wants me to reach gloved hands out towards it, and to bundle up and go outside.
In the garden, the moisture in the ground has frozen, forming the soil into small crystal-capped columns of surprsingly consistent shape. They make a mosic floor around the tough chrysanthemums who bravely bloom despite the chill, their warm fall colours contrasting with the morning's whites and greys.
The huge, dried, deep-berry-purple heads of the hydrangea bush are gorgeous. Each small flower edged with a layer of frost crystal fur that sparkles when the light catches it.
House sparrows shelter in the hydrangeas, cheeping brightly to one another as they flit from branch to branch. From time to time they dart across the empty street to roost in the tall holly tree, where they breakfast on the bright red berries.
Crows perch on the telephone wires. Not their usual raucous selves this morning, they seem to be conserving energy as they wait for the sun's presence to be felt. When they do speak, their rusty voices are made visible by white clouds of condensation.
It is a day to keep hands thrust deeply into pockets. I draw my scarf up closer to my chin and my toque down further over my ears as I walk towards the river. My boots leave yellow footprints where they lift the frost from the mat of fallen cottonwood leaves beneath my feet.
I clumb to the trail at the top of the dyke and, from there, I can see - even through the row of silver tree trunks that lines the river bank - mist rising from the water like steam from my tea kettle. Just barely visible through the mist, a single, hardy fisherman is casting his line into the deep back eddy where Grandfather Trout often hides. I wonder if he'll catch him?
Most of the leaves have fallen now When I look up into the branches that arch over the trail, I see not the green and yellow stained glass canopy that greeted me just a week ago, but instead, an intricate, interlaced filligree of wrought iron. Through its openings an eagle is visible, circling overhead. Its scree-scree-scree carries on the crystal air as it calls to a companion roosted in the top branches of a snag on the far bank.
It's time to gather rosehips, and I have my foraging bag with me. It fills quickly, a bounty of bright red that looks impossibly cheerful; a promise of warming teas and tasty jelly spread on toast at my winter table. Preparing the hips for drying will be my first chore of the day.
Foraging bag brimming, I continue down the trail beside ice covered expanses of shallow water, left by last month's rains The ice is patterned by successive freezes into a swirling arrangement that summons to mind 1960's psychadelia.
My path circles back towards home, along the sidewalks of our neighbourhood. I pause to admire roses, still blooming, their petals edged in crystal, and back yard gardens of sturdy kale and brussels sprouts. It takes a dedicated gardener to work the soil when winter comes, but these are their rewards.
Once home, I put the kettle on. Hot tea! In a big ceramic mug I can wrap my hands around. It warms my fingers. A perfect beginning to the day.
Whatever the weather where you are, and whatever your plans, I hope your day brings you the gift of cozy comfort, a few quiet moments in which to enjoy the beauty around you, the blessings of companionship, and a joyful heart.