The Quiet Of A Cold Day

An empty path

The temperatures have been erratic in the midwest.  Last Saturday the high was in the upper 60s, today the temperature was 21 degrees.  There was joy to be found in both temperatures.

Last weekend was full of the excitement of a false spring.  Families, couples, and kids were everywhere.  The air filled with the noise of happy excitement.

With a 40 degree drop in temperature the outside is quiet again. People are indoors, protected by brick and mortar. A perfect time for me to explore the world.

Julie agreed to go on a walk and we both bundled up as if we were going on an arctic expedition.  Down jackets, stocking hats, gloves, and good strong shoes.

We drove the short distance to the Blackwell Forest Preserve and parked next to a lone vehicle in an empty parking lot.  Initially, the cold air bit at my face and I zipped my jacket up as far as it would go.  However, as we entered the woods the winds died down and the air became brisk instead of painful.

It was as if we had the woods to ourselves.  The trails almost empty.  The former muddy paths now frozen into a comfortable hardness.  Past trees, past fields, past ponds, we marched forward.  At our feet were the frozen impressions of dog’s paws, horse’s hooves and human’s feet.  Artifacts from those who went before us on a warmer, muddier day.

The clearness that only cold air can bring sharpened our vision.  Our ears greeted with the silence of isolation.

After walking for about an hour we climbed back into our car welcomed by the warmth that electrically heated seats can give.  Then home to the rest of the day.

Today my goal is to remember that warm and cold day can both bring new adventure and excitement to my life.  How my day is perceived depends on how I choose to view it.



What Thursday Brought

A cup of coffee, heavy on the kindness.

It strikes me as ironic that what I sometimes think makes me happy, is not what truly makes me happy.

Like most, I find that a new special purchase, or a novel experience, is exciting. Like most, I sometimes equate excitement with happiness. However, they are two different things. I may have fun playing around with a new camera, but it is hardly the key to my happiness.

I am happy when I engage in activities that stimulate my core interests, like being creative. However, last Thursday brought me an equally potent dose of happiness. That happiness arrived via small connections.

These types of connections are often short, unplanned, and random. Last Thursday was filled with them, and they carried me on a happiness high for several days.

If you have been reading my blog you know that I’m an introvert. I’m very happy in solitude, I like being in my head. I am definitely not a person who needs to have 100 “best friends.” With that said, I do need some connections, and the connections that I make tend to be deep and long lasting. I invest myself into those connections, but until recently I have been much more comfortable giving, rather than receiving. Dear reader, it is with this backdrop that Thursday happened.

You may be wondering if Thursday was a special day. It was just a workday. A typical workday seeing over twenty patients. My work was not what made Thursday special.

Let me take you to the start of my day. I was up at 3:50 AM.  As I had a few minutes before I would need to leave I was sitting in my study mindlessly looking at Facebook. At around 4:30 AM there was a light knock on my window. It was my friend Tom, holding up two cups of Dunkin Donuts coffee. He told me that he woke up early and so he decided to surprise me. I invited him in for a few minutes to chat and we then drove off to meet again at the healthclub. It felt good.

I returned home to find my wife, Julie, at the kitchen table reading the newspaper. She put down the paper and we were able to chat a bit about the week ahead and a possible summer vacation. It felt good.

After my workday I contacted my nephew Themi. He is a physical therapist and I wanted his opinion on a shoulder injury that I sustained in September. He was gracious and helpful. He said that he wanted to see me in person to evaluate me. We were to meet the following Saturday at my sister Carol’s house, which was midway between our respective homes. It felt good.

I called sister Carol to secure the date. She was the person who suggested that I contact Themi in the first place. She was more than happy to accommodate my request. It felt good.

On Thursdays Julie works late and I make dinner with my two youngest kids. We are getting good at our tasks, and it was clear that we were having a lot of fun making Bisquick oven-fried chicken, Pillsbury crescent rolls, fresh broccoli and a tossed green salad. As we were eating our creation Gracie commented that making dinner together was one of her favorite parts of the day. It felt good.

Later that night I talked to my oldest daughter Anne on the phone. She was excited because she was coming up for my birthday weekend. She knows that I love to walk, and she specifically said she wanted to go on a walk with me. It felt good.

I went to bed that night with a light, almost giddy, feeling of happiness. I love all of these people and on that Thursday, they showed me that they loved me. It has always been hard for me to accept the kindness of others, but I am getting better at it. I am actively working on accepting love and concern from the people around me. I know that their actions not only benefit me, but they also benefit them.

How greatful I am to have people in my life that I truly care about. How thankful I am that I can now accept their love and concern for me. Most days are not like last Thursday, but getting one once in awhile makes them all the sweeter.

Today my goal is to freely love the special people in my life, and allow them to love me in return.

The Last Sunrise

The sun rising above the Kroehler furniture factory.

I am one of those people who personifies things. On an intellectual level I understand that inanimate objects are just that. However, on an emotional level I form attachments.

I have an attachment to an old camera, My Nikon D300. Born in 2008, it is ancient in digital terms. My mind connects all of the photos that I have taken with my D300, and it transcends from lens and circuit board to  loyal and trusted servant. Ever faithful, at the ready to immortalize a person or memory. I use other cameras, but my D300 has a special place of honor. It has been loyal to me, I am loyal to it.

Which brings me to the subject of the last sunrise, and how something that was not important to me became important to me. That something is the Boeker building on 5th Avenue in my hometown of Naperville.

I had passed by the Boeker building hundreds of times without a thought. Built in 1966 it stood next to the old Kroehler furniture factory. Once the largest furniture factory in the world, now a home for trendy lofts and mediocre restaurants (IMHO).

The Boeker building stood square, two stories high, and constructed of the yellow brick so common in its era. The building’s standout features were her windows and stair railings. Both constructed of aluminum with a modern look in 1966, now retro in 2017.

The Boeker building and I became acquainted through a mutual friend, Tom. He had an office in the building for his company. His space was on the second floor, in the northeast corner. Two of his office walls were mostly jalousie windows, rectangular panes of glass separated by aluminum strips. I was especially fond of the window that faced eastward, because it welcomed me with the gift of dawn.

As I have mentioned in another blog post, Tom and I tend to meet very early, usually before sunrise, as this is the least disruptive time to our families. Sometimes we meet at the gym, sometimes we travel to a destination, but often we meet at the office on 5th Avenue. We were there today to edit some photos, write some blog post, and explore some potential video ideas. In addition, we drank coffee, ate bagels, solved the problems of the world… and watched the sun make its ascent. Cresting above the Kroehler factory, turning the black sky orange, then yellow, then a brilliant blue. Today was the last day that the Boeker building would give me the gift of a sunrise. Its land has been sold, and its future bleak.

She resides on land adjacent to our commuter train station. Land that can be subdivided into parking spaces that will command high payment from busy executives commuting from tranquil Naperville to the glass and steel canyons of downtown Chicago. Her days numbered in double digits. Her time on this earth almost gone. Fifty years, tragically young for a building.

I feel a sadness for the building, its promise lost. I think of the businesses that have thrived and those that have failed within its walls. A proud space soon to be rubble. Its tenets scattered to the winds.

Goodbye Boeker building. Rest a peaceful rest. Your job soon done.

My goal today is to be appreciative of the gifts of sunrises and mid-century office buildings with big aluminum jalousie windows.