Gray Skies and a Great Dad

Sleeping with the windows open is one of those small pleasures in life… like camping – but with a mattress and indoor plumbing.  I love to feel the cold air across my face, especially if I am covered by lots of warm blankets.  Springtime is the best – I get to hear two of my favorite sounds; birds chirping (they wake up very early) and rain falling.

Practically in our backyard!

I do like the rain – I always have.  Twenty years ago we told people that we were moving to the northwest.  They warned us about the rain… what’s the big deal?  I love rain.  …I had no idea what we were in for.   Growing up in the Rocky Mountains meant rain might come in the summer afternoon.  Beautiful, billowing clouds would roll in and produce wonderful a heavy rain complete with thunder and lightning (the best part!).  Then it would roll away and we could all go back outside, smell the clean air and enjoy our evening.
Here in the northwest faceless gray clouds slink in around mid-October and dissipate sometime in June… or July.  It wasn’t so bad when we lived just west of Portland, but now… no matter the surrounding weather… our little community in the country seems to be forever sitting in a cloud bank.  The worst part?  No thunder and lightning!  Just gray skies and wetness….(seriously, we sometimes go 30+ days with NO sun).
I am NOT complaining – and here is the reason why… I decided that this year I would try to not complain.  I have developed a bad habit of grumbling about the grayness of winter – and most people have probably heard me do so this year, but I know that I have made huge strides forward.  My success can be attributed to the following two techniques:

It’s worth the waterfalls!

1.  I fall back on the strategy I employed for many years – that winter it is all worth it, in order to enjoy those amazing summers in the most beautiful part of the country.  I love waterfalls and we have more than our fair share – how else could happen without all of this water?


Sometimes the trails
get a little wet…

2.  This one has been the most important and I have to begin with a story.  I grew up in many different western states and this meant driving “home to California” through the Mojave desert.  My parents moved back to California after high school and I went to college out of state.  Following my freshman year, my dad came to drive me and all of my paraphernalia back home for the summer.  As we drove through the Mojave desert I began to complain about how barren and ugly it was.  Dad is usually open to my ideas, but he wasn’t going to let me get away with that one.  “Everyplace on Earth is beautiful, but sometimes you have to look at little harder,” was his reply.  Undoubtedly I put up an argument, but he was right.  We discussed the Joshua trees and wide open spaces and I saw beauty I had never taken the time to notice.  That drive home has had such a positive affect on my life – and therefore the lives of my children.  As I opened my eyes to the beauty around me, beauty seemed to appear everywhere; sometimes grand vistas and sometimes in miniature such as rocks and leaves.  I have even been able to see beauty in southern Idaho!  (Actually my favorite part of southern Idaho is the 80 mph speed limit so that I can quickly get through that particular form of beauty.)
I do NOT love gray skies, but I have been working at appreciating my little area of the world and the unique winter sky that it provides.
While I am on the subject – during that same summer that I had learned to stop complaining about the desert – we were living in Atascadero, CA.  Here the heat can be almost unbearable and I said as much to my dad… Dad had grown up in Paso Robles – a town to the north.  He had lived on a ranch and had to work in the heat.  He told me that he had learned to just embrace it.  Rather than thinking about how miserable it was, he would just take a breath and say to himself, “Wow, I really love this heat.”  Initially, I am sure I rolled my eyes – but I actually started to do this right away and it really helped.  I think that this lesson is harder to apply than the search for beauty and I often forget  – but when I remember to try; it works!

Dad was really teaching me to have a positive attitude.  Whining and complaining are far too easy and I think that the world has had just about enough.  I get

1980 – Love the hair!
With Dad and Tom on Grandpa’s
Paso Robles Ranch

tired of it in other people, and I am ashamed when I hear it in myself.  It is no wonder we are supposed to honor our parents – there are so many great lessons that are just ingrained in our character because of their influence.  I began writing today in celebration of springtime birds and rainfall – and now I know that no celebration of nature is complete without a celebration of being raised by a father who showed me how!

One thought on “Gray Skies and a Great Dad

  1. Do you know that Atascadero, literally means “the place where people get stuck” I laughed when I read this. I grew up in Modesto, CA. My whole family worked in the fruit fields and getting up at 3:00 am was not my idea of summer vacation. Anyways, what I learned has been all worth it. Just being snuggled next to my grandpa in the car, and hearing him speak of how we loved the solitude of the morning and appreciated Gods creations, has helped me be a good missionary and driving to seminary. Thanks for this reminder.


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