Thursday, January 16
-0.4 degrees F
The first step on our back deck reports with a rifle-loud crack. Exiting through the sliding glass door is necessary as the front door knob is frozen in locked position.
The hatch-back of the car opens but doesn't want to re-latch at this temperature and takes three yanks down before the rear of the vehicle is secure and I need not worry my school books will scatter on the highway. The engine of the car hesitates only a little before firing, for which I am grateful and the warm-up begins. Returning to the house, the front door must be by-passed again. The lock will not give entry even with a key. Ahhh, January in the South, mountain-style!
I spoon freshly ground coffee and dispense filtered water into the coffee maker so that my wife may rise and walk into the kitchen and simply press the start button to have her morning coffee, the last of my routines before leaving for work. This school day will turn out to be only two hours and forty-five minutes long. We are starting late due to some icing on the roads and snow showers in the western part of the county close schools just after lunch. Over the next several days, the temperature moderates slightly and by yesterday, Sunday, a snow-maker system of moisture from the Gulf of Mexico collides with the cold air tethered to every peak and entrenched in every valley for forty miles. There are two inches of snow on the ground this MLK Day and four to six more are forecast before this all ends on Wednesday morning.
This January is a little unusual from recent winters. These are the coldest temperatures we have had this decade. A two day snow event has been uncommon, as well. Twenty-five years ago, foot snows over several days were experienced more than once in a winter. In February of 1984, we had one night that hit minus twenty-four degrees! I couldn't get the farm house we lived in warmer than sixty degrees even though the wood stove roared with a heat that hurt my hands when adding more wood...and I added wood every thirty minutes or so. I remember burning nearly a half cord of wood in three days. That one storm left two feet of snow behind. But since the beginning of this new millennium, the winters are "mild." They have also been relatively dry.
This January is unusual in the context of the current ten year period as the last week has been bitterly cold, and yet it is comforting. It's a throw-back to another time period, familiar but seemingly lost. How easily my feelings identify a remembrance fondly and connect past to present -- well, the minus 24 degrees is more freakish a memory than a fond one, I suppose; I am remembering winters with deep snows and temperatures that are "normal" as a pleasant experience here. I'll not argue man is causing the change, but I think global climate change, even if just cyclical, is evident. This winter is perhaps more "normal" but it doesn't produce any hope for me that climate change is reversing.
I barely remember another January, nearly fifty years ago. An inauguration was occurring which was making everyone excited over the hope and promise of what would come with the new president. Kennedy like Obama was young and charismatic with stirring oratorical skills. How easily our country in collective soulishness indulges in hope for change. The excitement on the TV is palpable. Is Obama such a complete change for Washington, that authentic reform will be embraced inside the DC belt-line? Does his ascension to power, a stunning and welcome capstone to fifty years of social change, mark the end of the curse on our nation that slavery sliced into our national psyche like cuts by a whip thrashed on a bare back? The scars are rendered a bit less painful perhaps.
...ummmm, forgive my pragmatism, but there will be no real change even if Obama fixes every national economic, social, and political ill. No matter how much we might want to hope, this man is not our spiritual state. We are still fallen and the curse of sin is still upon the earth. Greed is the name of the game in this world system, and the US government/economy is a cornerstone of that world system.
I watch the falling snow and marvel at the wonder of the beauty of the earth. Yet, I know in spirit not to be fooled by any promises of change. Only Jesus on the throne in New Jerusalem will mark a time when mankind is free from the curse of which slavery was but a symptom.