Ice Fever – Country In Mourning

Not Norman’s chair

We are in the grips of snow and ice in Britain and in The Netherlands the entire population is in the grips of Ice Fever. Or were until yesterday. My Dutch correspondent reports:

Yesterday evening the complete national press gathered at the venue the Ice-Masters board meeting where a decision was being made….finally the chair people emerged with a press release; it is not going through, there is not enough ice and the temperature in the coming days is rising. The rest of the evening and night (in the media) was spent on the aftermath: the country is in mourning. Dutch airline KLM had announced it would not charge for cancellation of tickets and had been in the process of arranging extra inbound flights to get people back to the country in time, but alas. Today weather forecast bulletins are starting to go back to normal proportions instead of hours and hours of speculations about every possible scenario. BUT, computer models show the possibility of low temperatures end of next week, in the history of the tour it has happened that the preparations were canceled twice and the third time it was on, so this is by no means the end of the ice-fever.

And all to do with the national obsession with ice skating. Innocent enough.

I just makes me smile inwardly to hear news of an entire population mobilise by something which is just plain fun. That’s to skate 124 miles, touching on eleven cities, on their frozen canal system, if the ice is thick enough. For long enough. Just that. In the mean time here in Britain we are caught in the iron like grip of icy blasts, deadly roads and multiple pile-ups. Just in the county of Cumbria there were around 100 road accidents between 5.00 am and 11.00 am. That was yesterday when we had freezing rain and the dreaded black ice.

What we Britain’s mobilise around is the weather itself. What ever the weather, we have something to say. We converse with total strangers on the street about it. We complain, bitterly. We are just MAD about the weather especially when it’s life threatening. The worse the better. We mobalise around adversity. Almost a national past-time. It will pass and life will return ho hum – rain.

This is for a good friend who slipped in snow and ice the day before yesterday. She fractured her fibular. Let’s be careful out there folks.

Nature’s Frock

Nature adorns
and flows on.

All the art of living
lies in a fine mingling
of letting go
and holding on.
Henry Ellis.

Pushed To Be Faith

I’ve a huge amount of sympathy for parents with small children. Sympathy for parents generally, especially when pushed to the limits of patience. This chap was pushed by his youngster one night and in the process realized the Bodhisattva Vow. A leap of faith to BE faith I’d say. Last night I listened to a Podcast of the 3rd Feb. episode of Womans Hour orientated towards the disciplining of children. Interesting listening for parents and anybody, the issue of smacking children was on the table.

We all encounter children in our lives and sometimes we encounter the child in the adult too! An adult throwing a full blown tantrum is something to behold. Those occasions have pushed me to simply be there with the person. Pushed past any shoulds or should nots to a place of waiting. Waiting in readiness.

Thinking about it waiting still has one as an active agent. Another way of putting that might be to maintain a reflective interior in the midst of conditions. Just sometimes when in extremity the reflective interior finds us!

Being Good For Others & The Elephant In The Corner


In answer to an anonymous comment from a few days ago. When ever possible I get out after breakfast and walk. I’m fortunate to be able to do that. It might just be for half an hour however it seems significant to physically separate from where I work and live. If but briefly. I’m not sure why that getting-out-of-the-house is important however doing it does seems to bring a certain liveliness to my working day. Some days I have to lever myself out of the front door. Wet, grey days especially.

This morning, out walking on the light dusting of snow, I noticed boot prints with ‘claws’ extending out in front of the boot! A new kind of traction device for icy conditions I suspect. There were also the unmistakable signs of Yaktrax, a traction device I used in Edmonton during winter snows. But what about the car tyre tracks? Every track tells a story and clearly here was a car that lost traction and had to turn back. With some danger and difficulty.

Thinking about it we were originally designed to be on all fours. Now walking on our hind legs and traveling on round wheels we can easily run into serious trouble! We humans have of course adapted physically and mentally and for the most part can stay upright and moving forward. Most of the time anyway. And if we are using good tyres in good condition the vehicle we are in will gain traction. Most of the time anyway. Shoe traction devices are wonderful by the way.

But what about gaining traction metaphorically speaking. For the most part it almost always has something to do with acceptance, in the end. Although of course the exact meaning of gaining traction depends on the context in which the expression is used. The opposite or complimentary expression would be spinning ones wheels! When you spin your wheels, you are doing everything you can in terms of effort, but you are getting nowhere, like the car on the hill. When you gain traction, your effort is finally getting you somewhere. There are some interesting Preceptual matters going on behind these thoughts.

Did you ever feel you were getting nowhere, inter-personally, socially, politically and spiritually even? Gaining traction, being heard/understood/appreciated etc., is what one hopes for, using reason and logic, kindness for both self and others. And anything else at ones disposal. But just sometimes you know that the wheels, metaphorically speaking, have no traction. The ground is very very slippery. You know you are getting nowhere. What to do? Like the car on the slippery hill one option is to turn around and take a different route. Or retreat until conditions change and are more favorable. Increasingly, when it is practically possible, I find that stepping aside (pulling over into a lay-by) for a longer or shorter time is very effective. But not a universally wise way to go.

Just one last thought. Trying to gain traction can lead to spinning ones wheels, in a rather destructive way both emotionally and spiritually. How so? In a million ways, in every day, we are exerting influence on conditions. We are after all active agents in the flow of change. If the background intention of our interactions is towards following the Precepts, the potential harm is at best minimized. The Three Pure Precepts are 1)cease from harmful habitual action, 2) do that which is good (beyond the opposites and good/bad) and 3) do (or be) good for others. But what about the elephant in the corner?

Ah the elephant! In common parlance that would be ones personal agenda, in religious terms it would be ones personal koan. The koan arrives naturally in daily life and if it is the elephant that’s trying to gain traction, predominately, then better to invite the elephant into the light, acknowledge as an old friend, accept as one you love and carry on. Better informed. Kinder, wiser and more often than not – humbler.

Winter In The Spring


Winter is on it’s way here in northern England with snow expected tomorrow. And tomorrow is the first day of Spring in the Solar Calendar! Or at least that’s my understanding. Where-ever we are in the big scheme of things there does seem to be a sense of expectancy in the air. What will this new year bring? I wonder.

Stay warm.