This morning, the thermometer reads minus 5 degrees with a wind chill factor of minus 15. It’s winter in Wisconsin.

But, the sun is out….

Ice fishermen, secure from the north winds in their protective shanties, brave the cold temperatures for their favorite winter pastime.

And the sun is out…..

A 95-year-old sits in the warmth of her recliner at her nursing home window watching the geese pass overhead.

The sun sparkles on the newly fallen snow….

In Wisconsin, most of us are thankful for any sunny days in our oftentimes snowy, dreary winter. If you’re agile enough, winter may be a favorite season to cross-country or even downhill ski, snowshoe, or ice skate or make snow angels with the grandkids.

The sun is out…. That makes the difference.

When “cabin fever” sets in, many retirees head south – some for just a few days, the lucky ones for several months.

We’ll be different – and head north for a couple of weeks – to babysit for two young teens and two puppies. The question is, “Which will be the most challenging?”

These wintry days might be a challenge, but they can also be a boon to help balance our life when we use the dreary days to accomplish some serious work. Tackle the stack of letters or delete emails on the computer. Clean out closets.

Organize the latest stack of family photos – at least write names and dates on the backs – put them into albums or just take another look at all the happy times and special occasions.

Retype trip notes from family visits or vacations. Start or update a personal history, especially your family religious training background, to pass on to children and grandchildren. Gather records to work on taxes – not so nice, but necessary. Start a new hobby or catch up on one put aside.

There could be days when we get up early and/or stay up late or vice versa, with a nap during the day – or is that every day? Isn’t that what we planned to do when we left the workplace or since the children are on their own? No more worry about driving through a snowstorm when we have the luxury to reschedule our days.

My sister always evaluated her need to venture out in bad weather with, “Would I drive in this weather to get my hair done?” Most of the time the answer was “yes.”

Did we make New Year’s resolutions? How long did they last? Maybe it’s time to re-evaluate and rethink starting anew this Lent as we reach out to others, as well as work to improve our spiritual life.

Lent is here. Our climate helps us to take the 40 days of Lent seriously as we step back to think about what is really important and to get set for busy months ahead.

Parish churches offer many Lenten opportunities – weekday Mass, Stations of the Cross, the rosary, special evenings or days of prayer or opportunities to learn more about our faith.

Jesus and the Apostles possibly had to deal with snow or frost but mostly cold rain and sunless days during winter. Jesus knew fishermen and farmers who looked for sunny days when they could answer their call. We don’t know how they would have spent the dreary winters – possibly mending their nets or tools, or seeking indoor shelter to listen to their Teacher as he prepared them for the next phase in their lives. Did they have “cabin fever” and look forward to spring?

We do know that on Easter Sunday the cold tomb is empty. The Son has risen … that makes a difference.

(King, a member of Blessed Teresa Parish, North Lake, is married to Thomas. They have seven children, 17 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.)