Here in Toronto, we've had a long and arduous winter. In fact, I don't remember such a cold, snowy, gloomy stretch for many years.

My youngest son has only the faintest recollection of sun drenched-days spent luxuriating lazily outdoors in the park. He vaguely recalls blowing soap bubbles on our front porch, swimming in his wading pool in our backyard, or riding on his tricycle along the sidewalk in front of our home. As the dark winter days drag on, he innocently wonders whether he will ever again do these things.

The swimming trunks, t-shirts and shorts nestled in the back of his closet provide the only proof that a different climate ever existed. Occasionally, we open these unused drawers to look at these relics from a distant past.

As the dreary days drag on, my children (like almost every adult I encounter) wonder if winter will ever end .

My eleven year old daughter, forever the optimist, earnestly reassures me that she can almost "feel" spring in the air. I nod skeptically as I remind her to button the top button of her coat and tie her scarf.

Surprisingly, however — as if nature heard my daughter's optimistic pleas — the next day a warm front brought a southern breeze, melting the piles of snow along the road's edge. The streets filled with smiling faces of passersby, who, like us, shed hats, boots and gloves to embrace the outdoors. My children and I were energized by this much needed taste of spring, a small ray of hope in an endlessly bleak frigidity.

Sure enough, though, but days later came a blast of cold arctic air and a heavy, thorough blanketing of snow. Once again, the roads and sidewalks were buried in complete and utter whiteness. The streets emptied as the neighborhood hibernated, hiding indoors.

As my children and I stood gazing dreamily out our living room window, I contemplated our long and icy galut (exile).

I thought about the warm intersperses of spring air which sent a new energy pulsating through our veins but a few years ago, invigorating us with renewed hope. I remembered the encouraging message of the Lubavitcher Rebbe as he foretold the dawning of a new era of Redemption, signaled by the disintegration of the Russian communist regime and the astonishing display of G‑d's hand protecting the Land of Israel from 39 scud missiles during the Gulf War.

But as quickly and unexpectedly as these signs appeared, they were followed by even more frigid blasts, as our hopes of a warmer tomorrow were so helplessly dashed. The Land of Israel is besieged daily by the horrors of suicide bombers wreaking pain and destruction. The tragedy of September 11th hit us hard, leaving trails of thousands of broken and devastated families. Today, the world scene seems as insecure and troubling as ever.

I stand looking out the window of our history at a horizon of dark desolation, as new clouds of war are being forecasted daily and uncertainty penetrates our souls.

But as February closes and March turns the corner, I realize that though I get more desperate with each chilling day, I also know with certainty that each passing day draws us one day closer to a better, brighter and warmer tomorrow.

With my children at my side, I gaze out my living room window at a world of desolate whiteness. I realize that if I try hard enough, my children's ever present faith and optimism can infect my own mood of despair. Outside, the blizzard rages as hard as ever; but when I muster enough effort, I can almost hear the sounds of my children's laughter, playing merrily on a sun-drenched porch, blowing carefree soap bubbles.

And as I do, I envision a new season on the world's horizon, ushering in a brighter future of world peace, harmony and redemption — now one day closer.