Love in the Time of Climate Change

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Today I’m making a hearty soup and enjoying fresh breezes kissing our rooms through open windows, a sweet delight for the cats. This is the new and unpredictable norm for December, for nothing about our climate this past year has hinted at what’s coming next.

This past weekend we found ourselves alone and together, with nothing scheduled and surprisingly caught up with other life-maintenance tasks…so we relaxed.

Honoring days of rest, like tending to self-care, were themes often discussed and put forth as goals, but rarely practiced authentically in our busy lives, up until a year and a half ago; I’m happy to say that since dedicating ourselves to our version of a “slow life,” we’ve gotten better at this.

This weekend, we watched holiday movies, went for long walks, took Riley and Clancy to their favorite dog park, grilled a wicked good meal out on the deck, enjoyed our unusually warm weather, and listened to Christmas music while we read, nestling with various four-leggeds.


005My spirit felt bathed in light and peace, utterly relaxed, and utterly grateful.

At many points in my past life, this would have been a weekend neither noted nor savored as remarkable, other than for its record-setting high temperatures. Now, I treasure moments of happiness, ordinary time made extraordinary by the attention and appreciation due and accorded it. I notice all the ways Phillip deepens and refines the energies of my life, and I isolate blessings as they drift through moments and settle in my heart.

mama and daddy easter 1951 001This photograph of my parents, taken the April before their wedding (Ah, April in Minnesota!) sits beside my bed. I love the sweet joy they seem to feel in each other’s company, the hope that exudes from their spirits, still.

Years later, when he was 65, my father suffered a massive stroke that caused his next 15 years to be lived confined to their home, my mother choosing to serve as his caregiver. I spent as many vacations visiting them as I could, and often lamented the sadness and “littleness” they now had to endure, rather than all the joyful adventures they’d planned following my father’s retirement. This hadn’t been foreseen and wasn’t fair. And I thought I should be closer, geographically, to help more.

I vividly recall the time my mother said, “Oh, it isn’t all bad. We have good conversations and we laugh a lot. Your father’s been able to know his grandchildren, and we’ve enjoyed working on his writing together. Good friends have blessed this time for us…and here’s the thing, Kitty: your job is to tend your own life. We never know what sadness may be in store for us, what challenges lie ahead. Enjoy each other and the blessings that come your way as deeply as you can while you’re able, and take nothing for granted.”

Phillip and I with my parents many years ago.
Phillip and I with my parents many years ago.

“Time held me green and dying,” wrote Dylan Thomas in the haunting poem, Fern Hill. I know my sweet dog companions will be 12 this year, and Finny the cat will be 11. Phillip and I are in our mid-50’s…not old, but no longer green, and, like all of life, gradually living towards our dying. These facts are not all-consuming, nor entirely depressing to one who gardens and honors life’s circles and spirals, but they certainly contribute to the poignant attentiveness brought to bear on moments when we can be here, now, all together in peace, joy, and relative health.

Mulligan helping Dad prepare breakfast.
Mulligan helping Dad prepare breakfast.
Murphy enjoying spring breezes in December.
Murphy enjoying spring breezes in December.

At one time, I would have considered such a weekend dull and unproductive. How lovely that the gauges by which we assess our lives change, and how grateful I am for a companion with whom I can share and value simplicity and stillness, ordinary days made precious just because we’re together, grateful and aware, no matter what’s coming down the pike. Because the climate of any relationship is always changing, forecast or not, and deep reserves of joy, daily kindnesses, and simple, commonplace moments of laughter and love help us to weather the storms and shifts, expected or surprising, whenever they arrive. 

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12 thoughts on “Love in the Time of Climate Change

  1. What an enjoyable post, as I read it I became more and more relaxed. I totally understand how simplicity and peace are often so much better than life in the fast lane, especially as we get older. I’m fifty something and that sounds like my kind of a weekend. You are lucky to have such a wonderful partner and so many happy four legged’s.
    I love your pictures, especially the beautiful red bird, and seeing your gorgeous dogs. The picture of you all shows how relaxed you all are in each other’s company.
    I can almost hear the wings beating in that last pic, wonderful!!!

    We seem to be experiencing a few odd years weather wise too, I think we’re in for a really cold winter so time to stock up on the bird seed!

    Wonderful post.xxxxx



    1. Thank you, Snowbird! That’s a cardinal, and I agree that their red cheers up the landscape…they look so lovely against the snow–and I hope we get snow soon! Yes,you’re right, it’s a very happy time in our lives, and I’m very, very grateful, trying to take it all in. It’s a modest life, by worldly regard, but spiritually, I feel wealthy indeed. 🙂


  2. Really enjoyed this post, Catherine, especially because of the pictures that allowed me a glimpse of your family, and your parents in their youth. It is such a pleasure to visit with you, and share in your appreciation of life. There have often been climate changes, but perhaps we are more aware of it now because of better tracking devices, and communication in the world. In our country, a lot of history has been influenced by climate changes, and people were always a bit anxious about it… we say with a smile, it encourages prayer. Today I took my morning walk without a coat, because it looked so nice… but it turned out it was a little cold. Enjoyed it all the same though… I wish you and your loved ones (including Murphy whom I’m falling in love with), a very pleasant season.


    1. Oh, I love the expression, “It encourages prayer;” thank you, Shimon. Sounds like our weather is almost the same today; I needed a sweatshirt…they tell us it will be colder the rest of the week. Goodness sake! My perennials are sending up little tentative shoots…

      Murphy is a love, that’s for sure, a very curious fellow. We appreciate his singularity. 🙂


  3. So beautifully put, that I dare not risk a reply, other than, “thanks.” You are very fortunate indeed. PS – Cat hair in the kitchen, never get used to it. It attracts to every surface.


    1. Thank you, Kaye…Love your visits and comments…no worries about any mammal hair in our house…I’m pretty meticulous about cleaning, vacuuming, and laundering cat-bed and dog blankets. They learn where they can rest and where they may not pretty quickly in this family. 🙂


  4. It’s hard to miss 8ft of snow and -35 below BUT I know it’s necessary for the plants and trees to reproduce. So Love the weather, worried about the vegetation! One more note I liked your images of your family! It really gave me a sense of who you are!


    1. Thank you Jasmine, and thanks, too, for taking time to share your comments! It never gets anywhere near that cold here (near Madison, WI) and we haven’t had much snow the last several years, but winter can get bleak if it hangs around into April 🙂 .We’ll be grateful for any moisture we can get this winter, that’s for sure.


  5. Ah! Well yes, it’s beautiful in Madison, but I lived in Milwaukee for 20 years, so it will always have a hallowed spot in my heart! And then there’s the Spring Green and La Crosse areas for amazing beauty, too! 🙂


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