Meditations in the Cold

My first fall in the Northwest has been a breathtaking sight.

The city has been overthrown by nature, its busy streets hushed by crisp colorful blankets of leaves from the army of trees commanding every block.

People wade through the crunchy mounds, smiling even on their way to work, thinking about crashing into one of the many piles just as they did when they were young and free from responsibility.

But, unlike the intense autumn I knew in the Midwest, all of this happens slowly here.

Each leaf flutters down from its branch with purpose, almost as if the leaf is taking its time to decide exactly where it wants to land. Whenever I spot one of these leaf performances, I stop and watch until it finishes its dance. Then, I smile and proceed.

To walk inside any of Portland’s forested communities, one can’t help but escape from the concrete, buildings, and congestion only minutes away.

Adding autumn and a Japanese garden into the mix enhances this magical experience.

portland japanese garden sand and stone garden

Last Saturday Mr. H and I went to the Portland Japanese Gardens in the late afternoon. It was our first visit to the gardens and we hoped to catch some impeccable fall scenery.

Many of the trees were already bare and at first we felt disappointed that we had missed the best part of the season.

But as we walked, we slipped into a meditation, and silently absorbed the transition of the garden from the liveliness of fall to the solitude of winter.

portland japanese garden pond
Too often we lock ourselves inside when the cold takes over. We don’t know what to do, we feel anxious or sad, perhaps we’re already dreaming of spring.

But, we’re missing it.

This is a time of turning inward…to reflect on life, to explore the mind. It’s not a time of laziness, it’s a time to strengthen our spirits.

When we step outside, we can take a cue from nature. Things change—sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly—and we should not only adapt, we should be a part of the beauty around us.

So what? It’s cold…take a walk.

portland japanese garden waterfall

33 thoughts on “Meditations in the Cold

  1. So important to have accessible “green” spaces, especially in winter. Nothing makes you appreciate your humble abode more than getting outdoors and getting chilly. Such a lovely narrative!

  2. This is a good reminder for me. I walk outside all the time in the summer, but once it gets cold, I limit my activity to indoors. Time for me to toughen up! I loved your description of the leaves, by the way. 🙂

    1. It’s a good reminder for us all, especially us writers. I’ll spend an entire cold day staring at my laptop at home, so getting some fresh air is crucial. Bundle up, honey!

      Aw, thank you for your sweet compliment. The leaves have been very inspiring lately.

  3. What lovely photos! I love your description of the leaves: “its busy streets hushed by crisp colorful blankets of leaves from the army of trees commanding every block”. What a beautiful way to describe it. There is a muted, blanketed feel to the leaves.

    1. Thanks, darling! I wasn’t sure if the cam would be able to capture the magic, but between the two of us, we got some awesome shots.

      Thank you! I got a little flamboyant with my leaf lamenting. 🙂

    1. Portland continues to amaze me with its incredible balance of urban life and nature. I haven’t even seen the rest of Oregon yet!

      I was worried that I would miss the Midwest autumn, but luckily we have an awesome one here too. Sending some crunchy leaf mounds your way! 🙂

    1. Yes…that’s where my happy butt gets to hike and run all the time. We purposely moved to a neighborhood where we can access the trail…it’s a little less than a mile from our apartment. We’re very lucky!

  4. My husband and I have said we’ll be better about getting out for walks this winter. And since the season has made an early appearance, it’s time to put our money where our mouths are. 🙂

    1. I know it’s hard, especially when it gets icy and/or snowy, but it makes all the difference to be around that fresh air. The good news is, once you get moving, you get nice and toasty!

  5. Those are such beautiful photos! I smiled when you mentioned the leaf dancing… because I too like to watch leaves fluttering in the breeze. It’s the little things!

  6. Hey Britt in Australia the best time to bush walk is in the colder months it can get way too hot, in the summer so we spend it near the beach and save our walks for winter, no snakes or flies either. The soft golden autumn light is also great for photo’s. Happy walking, its too hot here already.

  7. A wonderful meditative walk and talk. I have come to appreciate this time of the year while growing older and wiser perhaps 😉 in knowing as seasons come and go, everything has a purpose in the circle of life.

    1. I’m really connecting with this time of the year as well. I also grew up with perfect weather in SoCal, so I appreciate the changing of seasons more than the average bear. It’s so neat! 🙂

  8. What a beautiful post, Britt. I love how you describe fall and the beginnings of winter in your part of the world. I am indeed a hibernator once the holidays are past. I enjoy winter, in a very personal, introspective way. But, it does tend to weigh on me when I spend too much time in my head. Getting out, no matter how cold it is, and frolicking is good!

    1. It’s easy for me to hibernate as well. Any excuse to spend quality time with writing and reading works for me! Mr. H was the one who had the Japanese Garden idea, otherwise I would have been cooped up all day.

      So glad we went! Definitely clears the mind to get outside.

  9. Terrific pic of you Britt with the waterfall framed by those awesome colours. I’m not one for the winter but I can live with it knowing that spring is on its way before too long. Portland sounds a cool city.

    1. Aw. thank you kindly. Whenever I’m looking at Mr. H on the other side of the camera, it’s not hard to smile pretty. 🙂

      Portland, as you can see, is SO cool! It was a big move, but I’m glad we did it.

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