Saturday, January 4, 2014

Winter's Chill Is Almost Upon Us

You could see the air mass coming on down from Canada.  I couldn't 'help but think of this one day some years ago wherein the local TV news channel had to substitute a regular reporter for their meteorologist.  She was obviously very pretty  but of weather knowledge there was none.  But she tried.  What made me snort tea was in her stress in relaying what was on the radar, she blurted out on the air.  "From the north comes a Giant Green Blob!!" (that would be precip, Miss)

Myself, I rely on Accu-Cow weather for the drive.  If he's dry, it's nice out, if he's wet, it's raining. He's always there as I make my stop for gas on my way to my work week.
Today Accu-Cow stood there in frozen silence.  I hated to lose a Sunday at home, but I was not going to drive down in 30 mph winds and wind chills in the minus 30's and 40's with up to a foot of snow. 

On the plus side, I saw my very first SnoBalls since last year.  Horray!   
Neither  Sno ball survived the drive, but it made up for the lack of doggie breath in my ear.  I go on
duty early Monday morning and there will be travel.  I didn't want Barkley at doggie day care with these temps. Nor did I wish Tam or any other friend to risk the conditions to dog sit.  So he stayed at the Range, Partner stateside the next week or two.  Still, I missed him hanging over my left shoulder, trying to back seat drive. It was a pensive drive, as words blew around in my head, to follow me here.

For tonight, a tale, of cold windswept places and hearts that withstand the cold.  You all be safe now.

The night is cold. And it is raw.

The icy wind blows down from Canada, mother nature pulling the chill deep out of the ground and throwing it in your face, daring you to fight back. It is a frigid mass of air we've not seen in my lifetime.

Looking out across a flat horizon I wonder why this view looks so different from where I grew up. Certainly I can put on the scientist hat and say it was the glaciers that moved down from the north in the Cenozoic era, or the giant dust storms that followed that carried the soil away, then replaced by layers of volcanic ash from the West, creating a vista of fertility. But the difference is more how I live in it, as opposed to it's geological origins.

There is something about being able to see so near and so far. Some people feel exposed out in the open land, I don't. I walk the fields, gun in hand, nothing more than a moving lightning rod for those things that might wish to strike me, but they don't. I feel a lot out here in the open heartland, my black lab by my side, and it is not fear, it's comfort. It follows me as I walk, the sound of my breath, the whisper of God there in the corn, the vista of open miles of ground in which I perceive the absolute truth about the past, a truth beyond the buildings and billboards of illusion.
Trees throughout much of the northern plains are few, taken down so that the soil may be tilled, only a few remaining as protection against the marauding wind that cuts through the land late at night like a Viking horde. The cold presses down, pressing deep, into layers of topsoil, and the bones of ancient buffalo, who bury themselves further down to get out of the wind, strataform of bones and life and death, forming the coal that drives much of this area.

Tonight, this close to the window, I can almost smell the cold, the odor of a whetted knife, carving shadows into the night. My body responds in a way as ancient as these lands, and I pull my black sweater across my chest, tight and warm, and turn away from the glass.

"You ought to move back to the south", colleagues say. "How about California or Florida?" I enjoyed as a youth, like anyone, days snorkeling, blue water dreams and tropical sun. But that is not where I want to live year round. I am not at home in such places all of the time, preferring these months of quiet cold, time to think, to write, to dream broad dreams, icy fingers down my neck making me shiver, the fire, melting marshmallow against my skin, melting me.

The lamplight dances along the walls, my shadow following. Barkley is likely asleep at home, exposing his warm fur to a remembered sun of August, feet chasing dusk colored rabbits in his sleep. I think back to tales of my ancestors on my Mom's side, who came to the United States settling in Minnesota. Of great grandpa, new to the country, moving a household across miles of land, risking all he had to form a new life out where winters are raw, beating miles of ocean and illness and pain, only to lose most of his money, belongings and food as wind swept fire roared through where he lay sleeping one night. But he got out, accessed the damage, and gathered those small coins he had left to him, and moved on to safer ground.

The wind sings its siren song against the eaves, daring me to leave, to admit that moving to the Midwest, to the new land of my ancestors, where I had no family other than a cousin near Indy, or friends, was wrong. But I won't. The price that was exacted for learning my way alone out here left my heart an almost empty purse, with just a few scattered coins tinkling in the bottom. Yet I know it was a journey I had to make. You make decisions with what is in the heart at the time, and when the chill wind blows, you take stock of your life and your decisions and seek shelter elsewhere or you stand and fight for your life and heart, and what fuels it. To do otherwise is to wither and die. Out here, the price of innocence is high.

Outside tonight, the wind howls, mute in its anger, with no breath now but a sigh. We flee inside with drumming hearts and warm hands and hoist a challenge to the cold as the fire ignites the night. Here and there faint windows glow, while the trees outside lay their shadows across my shirt like scraps of black velvet. I close the curtain and pour the wine and listen to my heart.

They say the Rockies are God's country, but so is this, a small juncture of trees and grass and an old easy chair. A small point in space among a great expanse of glory, where the Trinity is intact because it had never been otherwise, simply tested by the fragility of youth and the passion of yearning. God lost and then found, postulated here in the open miles of our faith and need.

I think I understand why my grandparents settled here and I find, more and more, that I am like them. I belong to this cold landscape, surviving like the small creatures outside, by wit and heart. As I turn back towards the fire, I listen to the wind, tapping the glass with the resonant sound of a few small coins that are left in my heart, ready to be spent. I know that I'm where I need to be, as snow brushes the window like a kiss and I wait for the knock of wind at my door.
 - Brigid


Rob said...

Interesting to find we are of Viking decent. My Grandpa was Norwegian and Swedish, Grandma was full blooded Irish. Can you say stubborn too. Stay warm my friend.

armedlaughing said...

Keep safe (and warm) yourself, Ma'am!


Rev. Paul said...

My ancestors flourished on the moors of Scotland and the hills of Yorkshire, both places known for cold & inclement weather. It surprises us not that I enjoy Alaska so much.

Stay safe, friend, and survive!

greg said...

You made the right call ma'am...that is some For Real winter weather bearing down on you folks. Wear a hat...stay warm.

Borepatch said...

"Great greeb blob" - LOL.

And it is such a pleasure to read your writing. That's quite a gift you have, and I'm grateful that you share it with us.

Oh, and if you and EJ ever want to move to warmer climes, Atlanta is pretty nice (and the connections from Hartsfield are pretty sweet). Just sayin'.

Brighid said...

Warm winter's eve to you.

Sunnybrook Farm said...

Still warm here down south but I have the wood in the dry ready for the bad weather if it comes. One thing you can say about winter is that it gives you something to look forward to, it being over.

Mathew Paust said...

With the grace, wit and richness of your writing, Brigid, you make wicked weather seem fun. You stay warm and safe, too, now, hear!

Lois Evensen said...

Stay warm, my friend. My imported Viking and I are in Port Canaveral today. We saw some snow before coming down last week, but are glad to have the sunshine here.

Sunday greetings from the Sunshine State (well, for the next few hours anyway - we sail at 4:30 PM).


Monkeywrangler said...

Stay warm and safe up there in the Land of Snow and Ice, Brigid!

Uno Mas (SASS #80082) said...

The wife's in St.Louey and I'm in sunny SoCal. It pains me to think she's facing this storm alone, without the capacity to move heavy objects, reach tall shelves, grunt, scratch, fart, or think linearly.

Stay safe!

Brigid said...

Rob - yes, we have that Viking going on. I'm also part Scot and Cree, probably someone good to take to a fight, and stubborn, why yes :-)

Sunnybrook Farm - the winters down where I work have been so mild the last two years, a bunch of the geese did not migrate. I think they're going to be regretting that. The water sources are all going to be completely frozen over.

armedlaughing - I will, the bat phone called and I was supposed to fly out to work, but all the flights cancelled, so I'm just playing maytag repairman right now.

Borepatch - well thank you. Atlanta is a beautiful area, but I loved my Great Lakes, even in the winter.

Brighid - to you as well, the power is on, I had a big bowl of popcorn with vermont cheddar crack on it for supper and there is tea brewing, all in all, not a bad night, but for missing the rest of the clan, including the furry one.

Mathew - I will, and as always, thank you for your kind words and your presence.

Lois - you two have a grand time, and I look forwad to seeing the pictures!

Monkeywrangler - thank you my friend, I certainly will.

Uno Mass - I laughed so hard at your words, your wife is certainly lucky to have someone of your caring, and keen wit.

Uno Mas (SASS #80082) said...

Ummm -- Could you call her and tell her? I don't think she'd believe me. ;^)'

Keads said...

Stay warm and safe. We here are getting some cold as well. It does make one reflect on home and hearth.

OTOH, it is supposed to be back in the 60's here next week. Mother Nature is a fickle lady. Pay no heed to her and you will surely die. In the air, sea or on the ground. Does not matter.