Winter photosynthesis

The pieces have been swirling around.

On Facebook, my friend Steve had posted a winter-arrives-in-Edmonton pic with the advice to embrace the elements. For the first time, I heard elements.

On Twitter. my friend Brett had retweeted the East Village news that Calgary's 9th Avenue cycle track between Macleod Trail and 4th Street was now open. "Your commute in and out of East Village has gotten a little bit sweeter." For the first time, I heard sweeter. 

On the sidewalk along the 102 Ave bike lane in Edmonton, a parka'd child sat on the concrete, legs below the knees splayed out in the way we bend before growing inflexible, the bundled one's attention on a mitten full of snow, while, from above, the mother asked the question: "What do you think?" For the first time I heard the question directed at me. What do I, 56-year-old Glenn, think of winter weather?

On the pedal home today, the pieces came together in a kind of equation from Grade 7. 

H2O + energy → C6H12OO2

Mr. Litwin burned the photosynthesis equation into our souls. I cannot recite all of the Peace Prayer of St. Francis anymore, but, the equation through which plants convert carbon dioxide and water into sugar and oxygen, that's pretty much eternal with me. 

There's not much sweet photosynthesizing going on in Edmonton these snowy days. It's more burial shroud time.

But it's beautiful. 

It's beautiful weather we have in common with other snowy people, the people of Helsinki, Oslo, Stockholm, Moscow, MontrĂ©al, Minneapolis, Sapporo. 

What do you think? might be the question all snowy people have to face. And then cover that face. It's not a question that makes itself felt as keenly in, say, summer. 

This is what I have learned from thinking about winter. When I go outside in winter, especially on my bike, I can manufacture a fondness for the place and its elements, so that, in the end, I'm not outside in winter as much as I'm just outside.

Forgive the unscientific equation. 

If it's co (cold outside) and I ho (head outside), using energy to pedal my bicycle, I invariably find I am c (cycling) with a h (heart) that's o (open), so it's just o (outside) again. 


Cold Outside? Then Head Outside on a bicycle and experience how Cycling with a Heart that's Open to the beauty of the place makes it just plain Outside again.

It's the equation that balances me at this time of year. A kind of photosynthesis the produces an affection for this place.

It is possible to put theory into action: 


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