I think my neighbor started it. Before long, the dreaded gombu made it to our family, and I figured it was just a matter of time before it was my turn. First Kathleen, then Nettie and then Anthony and so on until I started to chill, cough and ache. About the time I was the most miserable, my neighbor got it back - a cruel and unusual punishment - and so I went into my most defensive posture and crawled back under the covers and began worrying that the Grim Reaper was definitely going to catch me this time around.

We had the unique fortune of being the sickest during the mega-freeze of '89. The neighbors' water pipes were breaking, cars wouldn't start, the front door was frozen shut and it was gray outside, cold and gray.During the next few days of mindless opacity, the Linton family was listlessly lying around coughing, moaning and thinking how cold and dark the world seemed. The continual gray frigid weather in concert with the miseries of the flu had us all going stir crazy.

On Tuesday the malady symptoms were subsiding and, though not ready, I had to go out and face the world. As I drove through the Salt Lake Valley, all I could think about was the abysmal grayness that was everywhere. The sun was at bay by the frozen smog, the snow was stacked into icy layers of gray on gray, and here and there, old garbage was surfacing. And the more I looked, the more depressed I became.

Fortunately, I had another appointment that day.Although reluctant to make the trek up to Snowbird, I figured it was better than moping around feeling sorry for myself.

I picked up my friend, Ray, and the higher up the canyon we drove, the brighter the day became. By the time we pulled into the Cliff Lodge, life was looking much better.

The sun was falling into the lodge and bouncing around the nicely designed spaces, colors and textures. It was very captivating, and I continued thinking happy thoughts - seeing once more the pleasant side of life. The mountain, highlighted through expansive glass, was awash in undulating white and blue patterns that were interrupted with green-black masses of conifers. Colorful specks were flying gracefully down the mountain face - each color was being chased by a plume of white. When we stepped outside we could hear the distant voices on the mountain, shouts of excitement amid laughter. The sky was a wonderful clear blue and big white clouds were puffing this way and that - seemingly worked up over the comings and goings of the happy skiers.

And, this is the message. When we get bogged down in the dreariness of the season, or by our maladies, a sure cure is often found in a quick change of scene. I am convinced that our man-made and natural environment, if well designed and/or cared for, has a positive effect on our moods of life.

When life is at its grayest and coldest, finding a clean, attractive environment and participating with others in various activities is good for the soul. Our lives are often lived in quiet desperation. I suppose you could call it a homogeneity of boredom in the day-in and day-out never-ending cycle that we continually put ourselves through.

If you take the time to look around, you'll find that people are traveling from around the world to enjoy the beauty that surrounds us - a beauty that we take for granted.

So, stop looking at the gray side of life, put aside the problems that seem to be so oppressive, get in your car and drive into the mountains or deserts, fill your lungs with cool air, take a moment to watch a bird circle overhead and then go enjoy a little activity or a good meal in this wondrous environment.