Noticing

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Not long after he’d been up this morning, Aedan announced that he had to poop. We haven’t moved into town yet, so this means that we have to put on our boots, our coats, our hats, grab a headlamp or a flashlight, and trudge to the outhouse. As we cross the porch, I glance at the thermometer: -25 celcius. My nose tingles; the exposed skin of my face stings. I realize my new parka might not cut it this winter. Our boots squeak on the hard-packed snow that leads us to the outhouse. I help Aedan get his pants down, help him get up on the pink foam seat. I hold the light over him because he is afraid of the dark. We wait. After a moment, he looks up at me and says “the poop’s not ready.”

We head back into the house and proceed with breakfast. Soon, he announces that he thinks the poop is ready. This time, Paul takes him out. They’re back after only a minute or two. Still not ready. We go through this a half dozen times, each time with the boots, the coats, the hats, on and off. I’m getting tired of this. I can’t shake the chill, my tea has gone cold. I imagine it’s no fun for Aedan, either.

But the seventh time I take him out, standing in the dark encouraging him to just wait another minute and see if it happens, I hear an owl hooting in the distance. Hoo-hoo, hoo, hoo. I hold my breath, whisper to Aedan to listen. We hear it again, and again. And then I notice the complete absence of any other sound. I look up and I notice the pale ghost of last night’s aurora. I notice the bright, slender waning moon, the few stars that still hang in the sky. The silhouettes of bare trees. I exhale and I allow myself to slip into the noticing, to feel a moment’s gratitude for this outhouse that takes us out at times of the day and night when we’d otherwise stay tucked inside; this lifestyle that gives me chances to experience things I’d otherwise miss.

I don’t mean to romanticize it: I still grumble when I have to go out there in the winter time. And ushering my five year old out every twenty minutes over the course of the morning until he relaxes enough to poop is no great joy; but there are moments of beauty, if I stay open to them. This holds true for most aspects of life: always a faint glimmer of something beautiful, if you look hard enough.

What beauty will you notice today?

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