A change in the weather is sufficient to recreate the world and ourselves. – Marcel Proust

This year my ushering in of spring was a rather rude – and fluid - awakening. While often the season of unpredictable weather, it is generally accompanied by warm, sun-filled days with only occasional showers. Unless you live in the Red River Valley – here spring may be accompanied by a massive flood.

A change in the weather, included heavy fall precipitation, rain and late spring snowfall on already saturated ground, colder than normal temperatures and a higher-than-normal volume of water flowing up from the south. What does that mean? Ice jams, record-high water levels in the Red River Valley and a burgeoning river with nowhere to go but over its shallow banks.

I happen to live along those banks, in the south end of Winnipeg. With predictions of floodwaters in the city only two feet lower than 1997 – the so-called flood of the century (I guess that was last century) – I am advised to prepare for the worst and hope for the best. Hundreds of sandbags in my backyard are the only barrier between my house and a gushing, bloated, prairie river; one that I prefer to admire while standing beside it – not in it.

Cause for alarm, perhaps. A time when one might feel somewhat betrayed (not to mention inconvenienced) by Mother Nature, and finding it difficult to remain calm, breathe deeply and get on with business, pleasure … or just plain life. I realize this high water and relentless ice can also wield its fair share of perspective.

I’ve discovered that this flood of unpredictability, somewhat analogous to the current state of the economy, can be seen as a disaster or simply an abrupt shift in the balance of nature. And as they say, “shift happens.” In either view, we have about as much control over this change in events as we have over controlling the weather.

So, what to do? In times of ebb and flow there are always those who will do well no matter how bleak the circumstances and those who will falter no matter how bright the forecast. When asked for a recommendation about how to weather the financial crisis a wise woman responded: “Chill out and go to work.” When flipping through the Globe and Mail Style section, I recently noticed a hot-selling poster of timely advice from the Second World War. It read: “Keep calm and carry on.” A framed copy of the poster is one of the latest design trends. I’ve decided to adopt this motto in handling the waxing and waning of both my financial portfolio and my riverbank.

I admit that remaining calm during a flood of disastrous events (physical, economic or otherwise) may be easier said than done. But after you’ve done all you can do to protect yourself, your property or your livelihood, it may be a good time to reflect on what matters – a chance to re-evaluate what drives and sustains us, to reinvent ourselves, or reinvest our energy in better ways.

This season’s transition from winter to spring (at least in southern Manitoba) has been an extreme makeover. Nature – both human and environmental – is a powerful teacher. What we draw from it, and our experience of it, depends much more on our outlook than the forecast.

Author's Bio: 

I believe that powerful writing, too, can link the artistic with the practical.

My feature writing has appeared in: Ottawa Citizen, Winnipeg Free Press, The Western Producer, The Cottager, Manitoba Business Magazine, Manitoba’s Northern Experience, Home & City, Manitoba Gardener, Ciao and up! (WestJet’s magazine).

I’m the former editor of The Cottager, a Canadian magazine about lakeside living in Manitoba and Northwestern Ontario.

In 2008, I co-authored the Manitoba Book of Everything, an insider’s guide to my home province and its arts, culture, history, weather and more.

I have a Master of Arts in Journalism and a Bachelor of Nursing, and like to use both sides of my brain.