We haven't quite hit the Solstice yet, but the snow is more than ankle-deep on the ground. It began falling in earnest yesterday and quilted the landscape by afternoon. Overnight it froze, and is now a crunchy something that can still be called snow in some places, but utter ice in others.

It would have been another good day to stay inside.

Since the bicycle wheels won't turn, long walks give me lots of time to think. Crunch go my snow-boots as I stagger over the hills.

This past Thanksgiving was when we voiced it outright, but there are ample things deserving gratitude and praise in our daily lives. Heat and hot water come right to the top of the list on this occasion.

We should also think of the people in high places who labour constantly so that all of us on the ground can enjoy all this safety and bounty. Mostly, we are inclined to merely criticise them without ever walking in their shoes. The system is far from perfect, of course, and there may come a day when all of us enjoy total freedom to direct our own lives. Perhaps not. The newspapers constantly remind us of how close we are to cataclysm.

For the moment, though, we should all grok the slow closing of another year well spent. In each day can always be found small victories to celebrate, touches of beauty to savour, and memories to treasure with those most dear to us. These are enough to hold at bay the worst of winter's stormy gusts and chill.

For all its warts, life still has a beautiful face.