Even though it’s only March 6, I would pronounce that Spring has come to the Red River Valley of the North. In looking ahead, even into April, every day’s highs will be above freezing, and most all will be in the 40s and 50s. Sure, we MIGHT have a skiff of snow land, but with the ground heating up the way it is – we are almost snow free in our yard – any snow that comes will probably just fly around in the air.
Even the last few days have let us enjoy highs in the 40s, and today will be in the 50s. They even make a promise like a derelict uncle who says he will give you a car some day that tomorrow will hit just above 60 degrees. I know all of this seems like the local weather report, but it has a purpose to it.
Inhabitants of this land change pretty slowly. Especially when it comes to the turning of the seasons, even moving into the nicer seasons, it seems like it is done begrudgingly. “We just got used to THIS one,” you might hear them say in a weak moment. “This could just be a fluke, a temporary warmup or cooldown – talk to me when it is consistently (for the next month) different than it is now…”
And so once again today, as they have done throughout the entire winter, even when temps were topping off at -15 with a wind, the fine residents of our city will take a walk. Two by two, or with a couple of dogs, I can look out the window at most any time, and see them walking, some strolling, others trying to power walk, or keep up with their dogs, most all in the street, since in Winter you can’t be sure that the next yard’s sidewalk will be dry pavement, and not an ice rink. They will walk, some once around the circle, others multiple times, following the guidelines for a healthy life. Most likely they will go home afterwards and have a nice big bowl of vegetables.
All that’s fine, and a wonderful hobby. Where I shake my head, or scratch it, is in looking at what they are wearing while they walk.
No lie – yesterday, when we hit over 50 degrees, I saw, not just a couple, but many many people taking their walk, and still clad in the outerwear that they chose the first week of January, when any exposed flesh was in peril. Parkas, with hoods, stocking caps, scarves, thick gloves and even snow boots paraded up and down my street yesterday. In 50 degrees. Now, I don’t know about you, but my coat wearing comes as a direct response to the “checking of the weather” routine. Especially in the months from October to April, it takes only a moment to check and see what the temp is now, and what the experts say it will be at its high for the day. Usually, above freezing for me means a fleece or sweatshirt gets worn. After the snow falls, and things drop under freezing, I have a black waterproof lined little number that does an incredible job of keeping the wind from rifling through me. This one is my most-worn jacket of the ice season.
However, when “they” talk about wind chills and below zero, I make one of two choices: I’ll just stay home and nice and warm; or I’ll go downstairs to the winter closet and pull out my rust colored, multi-layered, super thick and very heavy parka-like coat. Neither rain, nor snow, nor ice nor wind nor any other pernicious act thrown at me by the not-so-nice Mother Nature, winter version, will have any effect on me. The only challenge is getting the seatbelt buckled, since the coat is so bulky.
I’m sad to say that my last level of coat is the very kind that the walkers were clad in during their perambulation yesterday, at 50 degrees and rising. Again, perhaps they just have very thin blood, but after a full winter, the veins of folks up here don’t actually pump – they just slowly move along like a slurry. If I were to wear my heavy coat out yesterday, and try to take a walk, my guess is that I would make it probably to the end of the driveway before collapsing in heat stroke…
And yet, there they walk – and it’s not that they are moving along casually, holding their pair of glove and hat, with the coat unzipped. NO! They are fully equipped, as though at any moment they could be airdropped to the top of Mt. Everest. Yes, I know it’s their choice (even if it is a bad one), but I’m more concerned about the inability of a large number of people to be aware of their surroundings, and to adapt to a changing world, even one that is changing for much the better. I mean, 60 degrees? I’m preparing the steaks for the grill tomorrow already!
I know each of us has blind spots, and sometimes it’s very easy to just drift along doing what you did yesterday, even though so much has changed. When we are not intentional about keeping up with the world, or with what is happening in our own lives, eventually, I believe, we are going to break into a sweat, and become very uncomfortable as we feel the heat of consequences of – not a bad decision – but an accidental one – come bearing down on our stocking cap-covered heads.
The best first steps to living a significant life is to be aware. Just take a moment, and observe what is happening around you, and if need be, adjust to the practical world around you. When I choose to live aware, then I make the choice to live fully as well.
I hope your March day is a beautiful one. Anyone who wants is welcome to bring a little bucket and scoop up the bits of snow sitting in the shadows in my yard…
Word for the day: elysian. Pronounced ee-LEE-zhun. Now for those of you who paid attention when you studied Greek mythology in your high school English class, you will recognize the word, not for its Greek roots, but for its geography. Both the Romans and the Greeks claimed Elysium, which was the abode of the blessed after death. The “Elysian Fields” was where, in their mythology, the heroes or the pious ones went to exist after they died. It was a happy, peaceful and simply lovely place to spend eternity. Of course, on the other hand, if you were on the outs with one of the gods, you could be sent to Hades, which was both the name of the God of the underworld, and the underworld itself. This was not simply a dark place – this was where you went to have all sorts of mean things done to you – forever.
Well, let’s not go there – instead, let’s go to “elysian.” It really does mean a state of joy and happiness, where things are just going right, or even where you feel blessed. Do you remember when you asked or were asked to marry someone? The answer was yes, the hugs and kisses proceeded, and you indeed stepped into an elysian moment. Hopefully, it has lasted a lifetime.
After 43 years of ministry, Randy Cross lived his "fourth life" and shared about retirement, living boldly and intentionally in our world. To be sure, there was some North Dakota thrown in.