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Summer to Autumn 2013

January 2011
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“In the depth of winter, I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer”

I came across this Albert Camus quote recently and it couldn’t be more apt, both physically and metaphorically. We have had a strong winter so far with huge pilings of snow, ice storms and some brutally frigid days and nights - true killing weather.

These weather conditions brought the usual reactions of snow emergencies, closed schools: a day off here and there with the decision not to brave the highways simply to prove the point that it can be done. Extreme weather brings a time out to the world. We wake up excited that there has been a change. A huge event both anticipated and dreaded.

What strikes me is the absoluteness of the winter so far this year: the deep snow hasn’t thawed and reflects a cold light day and night. The ice makes a crystalline forest of the trees, the sudden draw of a breath that burns your lungs and awakens that primordial fear of the eternal cold, putting our fragile mortality on notice. The thought of spring is absurd, as the garden catalogs arrive to taunt us.

We prepare the best we can and face the wind with respect and defiance. Another storm, another test – hoping for a victory but content with a draw. The driveway gets cleared, the walk gets shoveled and then the town plow drops a fresh bank in front of the mailbox. I bust icicles that block free flight to the bird feeders on the side of the house. The icicles grow back. I bust them down.

What also occurs to me is how a storm brings out people to help each other. I was dog sitting when a big storm hit the end of December. I went out and shoveled a few people out and helped pull a truck out of a ditch. We were there for 3 hours with chains and acouple of pull trucks. Fun in its own way. While I was away from my own home, a neighbor noticed my driveway with 22 inches of snow in it and used his snow blower to clear it out. Another friend comes by when the piles get high enough and plows me out on a regular basis. Being willing to shovel myself, I accept this gift with grateful thanks, being winded frequently from blood pressure medicine.

My furnace went out for a night last week in the latest storm, so I hauled in some more firewood and I strung a blanket up between the kitchen and living room to keep the heat in - prepared to ride out another cold night. But that evening a friend came by and fixed the electric problem – after being out sanding and plowing for 14 hours that day. A good friend indeed.

As I get older, I am constantly reminded how good my life is right now with the many people I have surrounding me, and how important it is to interact with them and grow our world together no matter the wind outside. The long memories we have shared and desire for more burn within all of us. Life holds on and spring will come.
I have a pot of tulip bulbs in my home office from last year. About two weeks ago, in the dead of winter, a green nub pushed its way through the soil little by little. More tulips are coming up. Something told the bulbs that the time had come to rise. Perhaps with the cold back there they figured it was winter and when I brought them into the living room, it was time to come up. So the heat of life finds its own way. Who am I too argue?

They are predicting more snow for tonight. We have had more snow this month than the whole of last year. I am tired of it already and January isn’t even over yet. But I say bring it on. My neighbors and friends will make the best of it one shovel of snow at a time - relying on that internal heat in this deepest of winters.

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