I began 2021 with a running start. Literally. My parents have this tradition with their local running group — no matter how late you stay up to celebrate and ring in the New Year, we run at dawn…well, more like 10:00am, which I suppose isn’t much after sunrise at this time of year in Saskatchewan. This year’s pandemic restrictions meant no trips to Yorkton and no running group festivities. However, that didn’t stop me from rolling into the morning light to shuffle several kilometres, starting 2021 off with both tradition and intention. It also didn’t stop me from tucking into a well deserved breakfast featuring the previous evening’s Yorkshire puddings with eggs and a spread of coffee, tea and fresh fruit. Oh yes, part of the Yorkton running group’s New Year’s tradition is an opulent potluck brunch following the morning run. To give you an idea of the relative grandeur of the event, I usually bring chocolate covered strawberries. We are fitness and food enthusiasts in equal measure.
In the afternoon Stephen and I decided to go on a miniature adventure to Pike Lake. It’s amazing what 25km can do in changing both landscape and mind space. Our friend and colleague, Hannah, had recently been to to skate on the frozen lake. Neither Stephen nor I had ever skated on natural ice, so we felt compelled to embrace this different winter experience.
Nestled among hilly farmland and acreages, Pike Lake is not particularly large, but has its charm. From the beach-front parking lot, both of us later admitted feeling both trepidatious and slightly underwhelmed by the snowy lakefront. However, upon closer inspection we found terraced benches carved from the snow on the shoreline, which offered a stable perch to don our skates. The ice was uneven and snowy, but Stephen laughed and said, “Imagine — it’s just like we’re skating in the 1600s!” His good nature fuelled my enthusiasm to find my balance as we explored along the side of the lake.
Hannah had told us to look for the canal, and after skating around the bend of the beach we found the narrowed ice passage leading to a rest area featuring hay bail seats and a wood fire. The ice on the canal was mesmerizing. Below the surface, cracks and fissures streaked through a spectrum of midnight blue to azure, clouded with crystal white. Leaves, twigs and water plants peeked through the glassy pane from the frozen depths.
I was most entranced by the bubbles that were frozen on their journey up through the lake. The bubbles elicited a strong personal response in my heart. Since March 2020, bubbles have been such a defining and delineating part of our lives. As I gazed at those frozen bubbles, I identified with their uncertain journey. If these bubbles were able to speak, what would they say? They might cry out, “Please help us!”
Of course, the reasonable response would perhaps be, “I’m sorry, you’re just going to have to wait until the ice melts in order to join the rest of the air particles out there.”
“But this isn’t fair — I just want to be free in the atmosphere,” wail the bubbles.
I say, “I can bring an axe, but it would damage this beautiful ice and cause both destruction and danger for everything around you.”
“…okay, fine, but for how long must we wait?”
I would release an empathetic sigh and say, “I don’t know. Eventually the ice will melt and you will be free. That could be next week, next month or longer. Nobody can say.”
How many times have we all had these kinds of conversations in 2020? How much longer must we bubble? How much bigger or smaller will our bubbles become? When will we burst these bubbles and have the freedom to interact with each other and the world around us? No one can say.
However, as I gaze at the frozen Pike Lake bubbles, I don’t see sadness and isolation, I see hope. The canal ice will not remain frozen. One day those captive bubbles gracefully and gradually will be freed. This season will come to an end.
Heading into 2021, let us all freeze for a moment and remember that this is all temporary. Yes, the time of thawing restrictions and freedom to gather safely will come. For now, it is a season to be still, to reflect, to allow our imaginations to stretch toward new ideas and patterns of thought beyond our tiny bubbles that feel frozen in the icy lake. From the depths of the ice, dare to choose hope.
Be well, friends.