when the little man who lives in the radio next to your bed rouses you from your slumber with the rooster-squawking news that your world, it is abysmally freezing, that there’s nothing between zero and you but a scant shallow degree or two,well then there’s nothing to do but hunker down.
since pulling up the covers and six months’ hibernation is not an option for the homo sapien species, you do the right-thinking thing: you grab all the clothes from your closet, you pile them on, then you waddle down the stairs, the abominable mother.
deep inside you this mad cave-woman thing is stirring you on: you want to grab all your loved ones, even the birds and the squirrels and that ol’ fat raccoon, and you want to haul everyone and everything to the back of the cave where you, in a cave era gender leap, will rub some sticks, start a fire and keep flesh, feather and fur all warm and all toasty.
but, alas, there’s no cave and you’re not good with sticks, so instead you start fueling your flock for the day.
in the deep arctic cold, you step into the purplish light of pre-dawn, armed with your coffee can brimming with seed. you pour seed for the cardinals, seed for the sparrows. you fill water for everyone, scatter bread, scatter popcorn for squirrels.
back in the house, you repeat the routine for the little ones sleeping up over your head. it’s oatmeal for the sapiens, oatmeal studded with every imaginable fruit on the shelf. you are filling their tanks for long walks to the train, to the bus, to the playground. calorie-packing, the arctic climbers call it, and you call it the same, as you pour almonds and wheat germ and fat juicy apricots into the porridge. if you invest oatmeal with amulet powers on a 30-degree day, you should see what you do when the digits come only one at a time.
the whole day will unfold with similar bone-chilling caution. all errands are nixed, unless earth-shatteringly essential. no child of yours shall be dawdling at bus stops. each being who steps out of your house will be so wrapped in cloth, it’ll be nearly impossible to move even a muscle. but you’ll insist.
and then you’ll get on with the business of stoking their furnaces. you’ll rub your numb fingers, yank supplies off the shelves. it’s visions of soup, bread and cookies, all steamy and yummy, all straight from the oven, that swirl in your head.
so pull up your long johns, fasten your ear muffs. we’ve a cold day ahead, arctic winds to contend with. remember the birds. crank your crotchety ovens. it’s hot cookies for all, and for all a good day.
Whether the weather be fine,Or whether the weather be not,Whether the weather be cold,Or whether the weather be hot,We’ll weather the weatherWhatever the weather,Whether we like it or not!Savor this day of cold and the snugglly warmth it brings with it !
As the mother of 13 year old boys, my favorite thing about this weather is that when I tell them to put on their hats, mittens, and a long sleeve shirt (seriously, both came down to breakfast wearing short-sleeve tees) they actually do it. No long stares. No mumbling and then ignoring. I pointed to Tom Skilling’s weather page — less convenient now that the Tribune moved it to inside Metro — and seeing a number below their age got action.The one errand I did run this morning, was to buy marshmallows for hot chocolate this afternoon. I may need it more than they will!
that’s a wonderful meditation on thecold. thanks for making such warmth of the deep freeze.
my wife is a goddess who drinks tea to stay warm. it is bitterly cold today as we approach the Full Snow Moon and my wife has graced me, as she is wont to do, with an aphorism that dangled at string’s end from today’s tea bag: “A great man is always willing to be little.”i also read today an essay “Two Economies” from Wendell Berry, the farmer and poet, whose observed:“The thing that troubles us about the industrial economy is exactly that it is not comprehensive enough, that, moreover, it tends to destroy what it does not comprehend, and that it is dependent upon that which it does not comprehend. In attempting to criticize such an economy, we naturally pose against it an economy that does not leave anything out…. Sometimes, in thinking about it, I have called it the Great Economy. We can name it whatever we wish, but we cannot define it except by way of a religious tradition. The Great Economy, like the Tao or the Kingdom of God, is both known and unknown, visible and invisible, comprehensible and mysterious. It is, thus, the ultimate condition of our experiences and of the practical questions rising from our experience, and it imposes on our consideration of those questions an extremity of seriousness and an extremity of humility.The fowls of the air and the lilies of the field live within the Great Economy entirely by nature, whereas humans, though entirely dependent upon it, must live in it partly by artifice. The birds can live in the great Economy only as birds, the flowers only as flowers, the humans only as humans. The humans, unlike the wild creatures, may choose not to live in it – or, rather, since no creature can escape it, they may choose to act as if they do not, or they may choose to try to live in it on their own terms. If humans choose to live in the Great Economy on its terms, then they must live in harmony with it, maintaining it in trust and learning to consider the lives of the wild creatures.”Such was my day. The tea bag aphorism, written by Ralph Waldo Emerson, echoed succinctly Berry’s expansive insight. And turning over that tea bag’s “tag” I found written the name “Good Earth,” which can be taken either as the name of the tea’s manufacturer or as metaphor of the great [person’s] motive.Everything is metaphor, to the extent that our vision and imagination allow.