Fifty Shades of Grey

That’s the Minnesota landscape in December. Fifty shades of grey. Bleak.

Sunshine produces warm greys. Clouds make cold, hard, dreary greys. But grey is grey and there is nothing sexy or erotic about Minnesota’s Fifty Shades!

I’m lucky. For the last week before I left Ubud for the holidays in Minnesota, my Balinese friends would find me staring off over the coconut palms and frangipani trees. “What’s wrong?” they were concerned. Usually I’m doing…something! Shaken from my reverie I explained that I was capturing mental pictures of the kaleidoscope of color, the five million shades of green, that I would need to sustain me through 50 days of Minnesota grey. They laughed. You see, they don’t get it. They don’t get grey, they don’t get cold, and they definitely don’t get snow! It isn’t their reality. Ever. But it was mine for many years. I knew what to expect.


Photo from

I remembered a children’s story, Frederick by Leo Lionni, that I read to my girls years ago. While the other field mice worked to gather grain and nuts for winter, Frederick sat on a sunny rock by himself. “I gather sun rays for the cold dark winter days,” he told them. Another day he gathered “colors,” and then “words.” And when the food ran out, it was Frederick, the dreamer and poet, whose endless store of supplies warmed the hearts of his fellow mice, and fed their spirits during the darkest winter days.

So that’s what I did. I gathered the suns rays. I memorized the colors. I stored up all the brightest, happiest words to cheer me. I soaked up paradise…Bali-rice terraces (1)

And it almost worked…almost.

10 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Shane McRae
    Dec 08, 2012 @ 20:54:36

    So evocative, Sherry. This is so descriptive I can almost feel the cold as the heat of the Balinese day sinks over me.



    • writingforselfdiscovery
      Dec 09, 2012 @ 10:08:26

      What a different picture I could post today! It snowed all night and I’ve been watching the cardinals play in the white frosting coating all the trees. The brilliant flashes of red against stark white are breathtaking.



  2. gigicullins
    Dec 08, 2012 @ 22:05:42

    I totally understand as one who has lived in both climes. I, as well, prefer the colorful, warmer areas of this earth although there is nothing like the beauty of the crystallized snow glittering in the bright sunshine like diamonds! Very well written, Sherry! I was there with you!



  3. Diane Struble
    Dec 09, 2012 @ 02:26:06

    Hang in there. We also have have days of brilliant white snow scapes under unbelievably blue skies. Sometimes there are snowfalls that have huge fluffy flakes that make the world a wonderland. There are nights when it is crisp and clear with a million stars that look different than those in the tropics. Wait for it .



  4. mary santiago
    Dec 09, 2012 @ 08:42:38

    Sherry, I had MAJOR goosebumps as I read this!



  5. Barb Garland
    Dec 09, 2012 @ 11:20:14

    Sherry, I actually love it all gray and colors. love so



  6. healingpilgrim
    Dec 09, 2012 @ 17:30:46

    Brrr…Thanks for sharing the Frederick story. I never heard of it, but I SO love the heart of it.. stay warm!



    • writingforselfdiscovery
      Dec 09, 2012 @ 20:53:19

      I remember having mixed feelings as I was reading it to my impressionable little girls. Would they think it was okay to shirk their duties claiming they were storing up mental images, words, and colors for winter? On they other hand, I really loved the idea that living is more than merely meeting the basic needs for survival.



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