Finding the Beauty

It snowed this entire week — except for maybe Tuesday! By Friday morning, it was snowing again, and I just couldn’t take it — that little bit of added stress on top of everything else was putting me over the edge! If I could have just went back to bed and got up when the sun came out around 10 am, I would have been much more relaxed! To make matters worse, the morning show guys on my radio were joking that we were getting another 3″ on Friday night. I am now officially over the cold, the gray, the sludge, the slop, the ice, the filth and the salt of this winter!!! 

By the time I got home from work, I decided I needed to readjust my attitude on winter, because we still have at least a month to go, including a trip to Ellicottville, NY next weekend! And for me, the next month at work will be packed full of travel and all kinds of new business initiatives — there just was no room for any added stress. Not to mention my CT scan is due and my doctor’s appointment is coming up — all things that typically add to my stress, even when I pretend otherwise — just know they’re looming puts me on edge!

So I told Tom I wanted to go out and find some beauty in this winter. I know it exists as I daydream of a crackling fireplace in a cabin in the woods, while a thick blanket of snow falls outside — having no place to go and nothing to do. Or thinking of pure peacefulness with only the sound of a stream running through a lush green forest after a fresh snowfall. That’s what we needed to find — it’s what I love about winter.

As luck would have it, we got another two inches of snow on Friday night and woke up to a fresh coating on Saturday. We decided to head out to McConnells Mill State Park to practice what we learned in our digital photography class. The class wrapped up this past Thursday, and we were anxious to start practicing the theory. And surely there we could find some unspoiled beauty with McConnells Mill’s covered bridge, running stream and waterfall. Now, believe it or not, neither of us have ever been to McConnells Mill, even though it’s located just 30 minutes north of where we live. We figured this might be the perfect place to actually see the beauty in this relentless winter!

Now, if any of you know my husband, Tom well, you know that he never heads out anywhere without enough gas in the car. As we passed a little two-pump gas station in Harlansburg, he thought maybe he should have stopped — he only had a quarter of a tank of gas. We continued on, and as we got into the park, the roads were snow covered by a few inches. I was following a map on an App I had downloaded, and when we came to a fork in the road, I told him to go right. That way took us to the covered bridge, and we would have to hike to the waterfall. He made the right turn, and there we were facing a very steep slope over the hillside without any guardrails — and we couldn’t even begin to the see how far down it went. But we didn’t have a choice, there was no way to turn around at this point.

McConnells MillAs we crawled over the hillside, I snapped a couple of photos through the windshield with my iPhone. It got really steep, and I was nervous, telling Tom we should have taken my SUV. Tom agreed, but neither of us knew we would encounter these kinds of slopes! I had no idea how far down it went and was really worried about coming out the other side. Tom stopped in the middle and sighed — he was mumbling something about he wished he would have stopped for gas. We decided to get out of the park and get gas so Tom could relax. If we could make it out.

McConnells MillAs we reach the bottom and started climbing up the other side of the slope, Tom was getting worried that the roads were very snow covered on this side — he hoped it didn’t get much steeper. We came up to a Jeep that had stopped in the middle of the hill between two large rocks — rocks the size of small homes. He was really sweating now that we were going to get stuck on the hill. But we didn’t! This view took my breath away — it was amazing. We made it out of the park ten minutes later, and went back to Rt. 19 where Tom found the nearest gas station and bathroom!

We went back again, knowing we could make it in and out now, and actually parked at the covered bridge. Parking was tight as there were quite a few other people had the same idea as we did. It wasn’t as peaceful as we had hoped — I actually couldn’t believe how many people were out there. I tread through some deep snow banks and took some pictures of the stream. I thought it may actually have a lot of ice, but there was none. There was no where to set up the tripod, so we called it a day.

Yes, we found some gorgeous views and the snow was pretty. But I realized that it wasn’t so much about finding the scenic snowscapes, but finding the peace that came with it. For me, finding the beauty this winter means I need find some time to slow down and unwind.

Here I’ve been looking for some reprieve from this winter, realizing it’s peace I’m seeking, and God has been talking to me all week — in the novena that I’ve been praying to St. Francis of Assisi — who is the perfect example of peace. It’s not finding the beauty with my eyes, but finding the beauty within my heart.

Always B E L I E V E .

Let me know your thoughts!