Archive for January, 2015

LEAVING WINTER

Everyone loves the summer. Everyone. that dry hot heat that makes you plunge into icy lakes, or dive into your neighbors pool after they’ve turned in for the night. The warm evenings with friends and BBQ’s on the back porch or competitive bocce ball and badminton in the yard. Evenings of fishing and boating, weekends of tents and cottages… there’s no better time right?

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Then it stays hot. Real hot. Too hot! You wake up earlier then expected because your pillow is soaked from your head sweat and your clothes are sticking to your body from the exhausting humidity. Your car is a nice 188 degrees so the leather seats and steering wheel melt to your skin instantly. Your air conditioning takes 48 minutes to get cool enough to touch your belt buckle and your water bottle has started to boil just from sitting in your cup holder, terrific.  Your supposed to be at work (because it’s Tuesday and not a holiday and you’re not a teacher) but your stuck in this unrelenting heat at a railroad crossing that’s determined not to end so you can be late.  Then the domination of the outdoors by the black flies, horse flies, mosquitos, Gnats, and the tiny things you don’t see till they bite you, all working together to force you into spraying your face with stingy smelly deet and wearing nets over your face hours after beating yourself bloody trying aimlessly to kill them.  Then after two months of sunburns, unrelenting smog, wickedly high power bills, sauna level humidity, the heat finally breaks and offers some cool breeze and sweet relief. With that, we see the first leaf swap it’s shade of green for yellow.  Autumn has returned.

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There’s no better season then the Canadian Fall (this is fact, not just my opinion!).  Autumn is amazing. mosquito free Campfires, walks through the woods, beautiful colours, crisp air, hoodies and jeans, deep woods hunting and evening fishing, cool nights in the cabin, but warm sunny midday walks.  The leaves have created an array of colours over the forest floor that never gets old.  it has to be one of the most beautiful (and comfortable) times of the year.

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But near the end it’s not so pretty. By the time winter finally rolls around Autumn is just showing the last of its ugly few days. Trees look old and desolate. the ground is covered in dead, wet rotting leaves. the Rain has mixed with the cold and snow to make dirty roads, and mud slicks everywhere. The cold rain is mixed with icy gusts forcing us into warm layers that are all bound get wet before you arrive to your destination.  Its clean now that the season is dying and its a bit of a nasty death. But then something amazing happens.  It snows.

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(Above Top of Tower Road, Taken Early November – Photo by Marshal Burnham)

In only a few days the entire landscape is covered with a soft white fluff that drops slowly from the heavens to blanket the mess that the fall left behind. rotten leaves, mud lined curbs, dead grass are all covered by this brilliant white sheet that seems to give us a fresh new start.

I love the winter. Even more I love the snow, the cold, frosty mornings, warm houses, chimney smoke, blizzards, families mixed with holidays meals, old movies paired with hot chocolate and a fire, baked goods being exchanged around the neighbourhood, last minute snow days, everything, I love it all. Most of all I love the imagery it brings. I love the idea of a clean slate. Everything is brand new. Kids gaze wide eyed out the frosted window and begin to dress in multiple layers so they can dive, roll, toboggan, throw, toss, flop then moments later run inside wet and cold smelling like the fresh outside.

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(Above Taken on the Klondike Highway Yukon Territory on Boxing day 2014 – Photo by Marshal Burnham)

But the snow isn’t perfect.  It doesn’t take long to begin to detest that which I once loved. Every year the winter overstays it’s welcome. The once pure white fluff becomes dirty and hard packed. It turns from a fun and endearing holiday friend to a worn out, bitter relationship, that overstays its welcome far too long.

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(Above “Freegold Road” just outside of Carmacks Yukon near 8 mile lake – Photo by Marshal Burnham)

Then one day the sun stays out a little longer. It seems to be a bit closer, and we get a hint of warmth from above. The snow for the first time beings to drip from the roof and there’s a continual little “ping ping ping” you hear all day as your eaves start to leak melted snow. finally spring has sprung, and there is once again a feeling of hope in the air. The warm rain is a welcome surprise as it washes away all of our dirty snow and unyielding chunks of ice from the corners of our driveways, the wildlife begins to roam, chirp and growl. Rivers and lakes begin their thawed journey’s once again,  green life starts to crawl its way up the mountains as the white caps melt into it’s veins.   Life begins to emerge again from hiding.

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(Above “Kings Throne” Kluane National Park and a Grizzly fresh from hibernation searching for Alaskan Salmon, Haines Alaska)

But with the rain comes the severe thunderstorm and tornado warnings, the unceasing wet, and un predictable temperatures all of which causes endless growth. Endless growth causes endless work, digging removing and replanting, rebuilding repairing and fixing.

Then To the Summer we return… only to cycle through again.

There is no better place in the world to live then Canada. 4 amazing season, all breathing their own life, all affecting one another and interacting with each other cleaning up the mess of the seasons before and intern preparing to leave their own.

It’s not tough to relate this to life and I won’t pretend it’s a new idea. We are all forced into dark cold winters, and we’ve anticipated the spring.  We’ve all experienced the joy of the rain and the pain of a lonely thunderstorm.  Sometimes I’ll thank God for the summer and in the same breath curse the heat. I’ll feel the blessing of a slow falling flake, and rage against the frost on my windshield.

We met for an evening some years back with some dear friends who told us that they had lost their twin babies late in their pregnancy. Still to this day it breaks me to think of that pain they faced. To see their eyes as they shared of their lost joy, their futures they had celebrated had crumbled to the floor. I was so devastated for them and there were no words I could offer that could comfort. There was nothing to be said. I went home that night and tried to gain some perspective of loss and how in the darkest moments of our lives, all of a sudden one leaf can change its colour, and the beginning of an entirely new season is just waiting for us to embrace it. Every season will end… doesn’t’ matter how amazing or beautiful, how hard or broken, it all ends. ‘This too shall pass’. I look now and see this family with all their kids and realize that while the painful memories don’t fade easy, we can through the changing of the seasons begin to understand how those moments have changed us.

My wife and I have suffered many losses.  The pains of multiple miscarriages, broken hopes on repeat, can’t readily be described.  That feeling of hopelessness and loss isn’t easily equaled.  The hurt within those single moments can never be diminished or erased, but now when I see the faces and hear the voices of my two little girls that came after those and as a result of those losses…nothing can replace them. It was worth all the sadness, worth all the pain.  I’ve even thanked God for the loss many times.  When I’m swinging my baby girls through the air, or being hugged tightly after bedtime prayer I remember that God has a plan.  Without my pain I possibly never would have known these two little girls who bless me a thousand times a day.

Gods plans are bigger then ours, and when we can’t see ahead of us He’s already been there, and he knows that the next season is just one falling of a leaf away.

Jeremiah 29:11-13 (NIV)

11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 12 Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.

…….

So I wrote this song called “Leaving Winter” about that whole experience. words are below and the link for the song is here too.  LEAVING WINTER ON YOUTUBE  (FULL VERSION Also available on iTunes

Every year

the leaves beg its branches to hold on,

resisting the urge just to move on…

” God I don’t want to blow away…”

And the colours,

slowly fade from pale green,

to shades of yellow and sunset,

their days are coming to end.

And the Winter, convinces the leaves to leave.

So the snow can cover everything.

And all the falls imperfections,

they’re covered in white

and day starts all over again.

So we’ll leave this:

Autumn we loved so dearly,

seeing tomorrow so clearly,

and the snowflakes reminds us of that.

and the Sunrise,

always follows the sunset.

tomorrow is not even born yet,

so we will just live on through tonight.

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(Click, Shutter Opens) It’s absolutely pitch black.  There isn’t a sound except for the wolves miles away calling into the dark.  I’m freezing cold. my fingers are numb as I fumble through the menu for the right settings on my camera.  My breath in the frigid -42 freezes to my beard instantly as my lungs struggle to breathe in the shards of icy oxygen.  In this moment time is irrelevant. the world is behind me and there is nothing but myself staring into the mind of the creator himself.  There is no where in the world I’d rather be. Alone in the darkness, miles away from civilization standing on the side of the only desolate northern highway in the Yukon in the middle of the night I point my camera to the sky trying desperately to catch this rare moment… (Click, shutter opens.)

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(Shutter closes)

Above me, I watch God paint his latest masterpiece in real time directly onto the canvass of heaven.  Maybe it’s the frozen air or maybe I’m struck by the intense beauty of it all,  but for a moment my breath is stolen from me.  Its hard to breathe. I stand silently between the snaps of the camera almost convincing myself the distant sound of the wind is actually the roar of the emerald fire above me.

(Click, Shutter opens)

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Like a green and yellow fire His strokes spread across the sky dancing around the stars in a continually moving masterpiece of perfection.  Every few seconds a completely new design, different lines and curls, new colours and shading, shapes and patterns.  I never knew it was like this.  I never knew the brilliant Aurora Borealis could dance and move across the sky like a herd of a billion shooting stars.

(Click, shutter opens)

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(Shutter closes)

Frustration sets in.  What I’m seeing above me, all around me, what I’m experiencing is not being captured on my little display screen.  I’m trying to squeeze this life changing moment, this miracle of the heavens into a digital display to share but I’m failing wildly.  I can’t stop from shooting. To think that I can’t share this beauty with those around me in life kills me.  I need to capture all this… It has to be shared.

(Click shutter opens)

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My shutter opens.  This moment reminds me of what it’s like to know my Creator and desperately want to share that experience.  To have all this life changing experience.  To walk and talk to be in a living relationship with my God is wildly overwhelming, but when I try to share it, when I try to capture it into words or posts, shares or status’ it becomes some cliché or mundane old newspaper headline.  It kills me inside a little.  If only the entire world could experience these lights.  If only the entire world could experience the beauty, depth, the majesty of this one moment and be forever changed, they would know true joy in the face of sorrow. Life in the face of loss. Hope in the face of darkness. If they could experience God like I experience these lights everything would change. If only I could capture it into that one perfect picture, status, or post. That perfect message or sentence.  If only I had the gift to make someone experience it… things would be different.

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but I can’t can I… I can’t.  That experience can’t be forced it needs to be a decision.   Not many people want to come to the Yukon mid winter, go out in the middle of the night on a work week, bundle up for a violent -42, sit and wait, to drive out to a desolate highway.  Not many people want to remove the city lights and sounds and venture into the cold and dark highway to look up and just see some lights. But for those who have seen them who have sat and stared into the heart of these beautiful lights, every single one of them will tell you that it’s worth everything to get there.  I’m blessed and in these moments I recognize it more then ever.  I’m blessed to see creation and know the one that made the stars, then asked them to dance.  I’m blessed because I’ve found purpose and understanding to the “who am I” question because I know the maker of the stars.   I’m blessed because I took that risk to get away from the man made lights and seek the most amazing God made Northern lights.  Blessed to know the creator. blessed to know that there is Hope in the Darkness

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Be Blessed.

(Click shutter closes)

If you want to see the LIGHTS IN ACTION… watch this clip I made by merging hundreds of pictures together, This way you can see what I see.  Enjoy LIGHTS IN ACTION