You know, for the longest, I could see only the “dead of winter”, the gray seemed to shade all the scenery and the sky. In Tennessee, winters are gray. Rarely does the sun shine full on a winter’s day here, and that never changing gray hypnotizes me into a visual of indiscernible landscapes.

Rain and cold toughen my senses and calls on my inner animal to stay “holed up” in the comfort and safety of my home. Self-preservation urges me to eat constantly and move slowly. The gray light of day makes mornings feel like 5:30 pm and finances always seem to become a problem.

My arthritis decides to take over many of my joints and talks with me constantly in the form of pain and restricted movement.

So one year it finally got to me and I bolted for Costa Rica’s ideal climate and sandy beaches for an extended period. It was sunny every day there and the lush green rainforest and pastures painted my eyes with every color of green on earth. The blue of sky and the waters often were identical; so blue I could not tell where the sky ended and the ocean began.

My arthritis soon left me and my heavy diet of needless food was replaced by a daily dose of rice, chicken and fruit. The mountainside became my exercise gym and sunset was my final waking hour, while sun rise was my alarm clock. I felt better physically than I had in many years… nearly pain free.

I see my future as bright and it is because I have seen a new “winter”. But what I want to tell you today is what I see now that I have returned from a green, rich coast to the gray of Tennessee.

I see the beauty, for the first time, in the many shades of gray and brown and green that makes up the “gray of winter” here in Tennessee. What I could not see before I left, I can see now that I have returned.

After a Jeep ride to my favorite cove at Lake Pickwick, last winter my eye danced from one tree to the next and one shade of gray to the next. And they were not the “one gray color” I had seen all my life, but every gray was different, painted by a master, splattered with green mosses, brown leaves, white bark, black shaded subtle lighting, and my eyes saw as if it were the “green of Costa Rica”.

For the first time, this gray was the most beautiful thing I had ever noticed. Gray was no longer just black and white, but rather a rainbow of color. All my life it was just a depressing gray, but on that day, I saw the light. The shades of gray had blurred the picture of beauty into a dreaded scene. Not anymore, and with this year’s snows, the added beauty of our homeland here in Tennessee holds me like never before…. claiming me as its own.

I still long for Costa Rica in the winter and someday, when the time is right, I will “winter” there, but until then I can only thank Costa Rica for opening my eyes to the beauty of the “dead of winter” here in Tennessee. Until another day passes, I will talk to Arthur (itis) and tell him of a place far away that he will never see. So Arthur, I say to you, “Today, enjoy Tennessee as I do, but remember there will come a day that I leave you here in the gray of winter and return to you come Spring. You and “Mr. Allergies” get ready for spring sinus season. I’ll see you then.”

Seeing things anew is not an easy feat for most of us and often, we must lose or do without something to see it as it really is. Today, see the beauty in the dead of winter and if you can’t seem to see it, I suggest a stay in Costa Rica for a month or so. It will open your eyes and heaven knows it is beautiful to even the worst of eyes.

“Where are my glasses honey? I can’t see a thang.”…………”Thanks hon” as I put them on…..”Oh there is is the beautiful grays of 2 day”….The Are u crazy? look came over Diana’s face as dhe gazed out the window on another gray Tennessee Gray Day, and just walked on 2 the coffee pot shaking her head wondering how she’s gonna put up with me for my next 50 yrs.