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“Winter Blahs? Winter Ahhs!” An Open Letter from Professor Barbara Crawford

February 22, 2017


There is a very small room, about 7 x 9 feet in size, off the kitchen. The room is positioned to catch the morning and evening sun, and so is bathed in light almost all day. This is where I begin my day. On a winter day, when it is still dark, I take nourishment there, both spiritual and nutritional. Today, I arrive before the sun. I can tell it is cold outside. Probably there’s frost. But it’s too dark to say.

Books of inspiration and devotion are on the small table. The newest additions to the group are Arctic Circle and Mother Teresa: Her Essential Wisdom. Bird-watching binoculars are on top of the stack. A Tibetan singing bell provides my answer to bird calls. As the sun begins to appear, shining first on my uphill neighbors, who were our friends before we moved here, it brightens my cozy surroundings.

In the corner, the first to receive the light is a small basil plant pulled from last summer’s garden. In a while, I will, as usual, pick two leaves and add them to my bottled water. They will provide reminders during the day of the morning stillness from which they came and they offer promise of the garden to come.

Next to the basil is a small flowering plant given to me by a friend. I’m not familiar with the plant and refer to it by the name of my friend. In the middle of the fading darkness is a bright pink germanium, a fall cast-off pulled from a friend’s trash pile. Such throwaways are a winter delight. Also sprouting are small tomato seedlings. These fragile-looking starts will become robust providers for my summer harvest. Other plants include a cutting from boxwood shrubs that will become part of a new garden I am planning.

Outside, the sun now illuminates the fields, whose soft rose-colored curves contrast with the cool blue shadows cast by the houses. I am painting the image in my mind as I finish my breakfast. The simple white table cloth on the table is a $2 purchase from an Italian flea market and a reminder of our frequent trips to Italy.

The sun shines strongly now and reminds me that there are things to do. I will go gladdened by so much simple beauty. My day has been enriched by this small moment and by the memories it has triggered. Joyfully I leave my small sanctuary and carry its spirit in my heart.


Barbara Crawford


February  2017

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  1. Suzanne Burton Johnson says:

    Oh what a restful morning ritual. Sunlight joining the day, plants of all sorts near by and my favorite, the $2.00 table linen from Italy accompanying you as you greet the day. You, Barbara Crawford,are one of my favorite parts of SVU and traveling to Italy. I’m glad you are still there to make SVU a memorable experience for others.

  2. HP says:

    Beautiful! Just as the author.

  3. Leigh Ann Sellers says:

    I love this! Simple, yet beautiful. I miss you Prof. Crawford! Thanks so much for sharing! <3

  4. Amanda Cunningham says:

    How lovely!

  5. Martha says:

    Barbara, this is lovely, m

  6. Susan Norris says:

    As an old friend who just today wondered what ever became of Southern Sem, I was so happy to see a familiar name. Your short tribute to morning was lovely, although the very cold ones never appealed to me very much. So glad to know that you are still teaching, painting, and, I hope, traveling.

  7. Sarah Miller says:

    That was really beautiful. Thank you for sharing.

  8. Hannah Rose Mortenson says:

    This is a beautiful letter, touched my heart and is a wonderful reminder to appreciate moments like these and also to take the time to have them, thank you.