I think we may lose our outdoor wreaths, but I’m not going back outside to try to take them down.
They – that is, the folks who spend their days looking at all sorts of maps and magic charms, and then tell the rest of us what the weather is going to be like over the coming days or weeks – have been saying for a few days that right before Christmas, we could be in for a storm that would pretty much look like the one at the North Pole on Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, with tinsel blowing off the trees, and packages getting unwrapped. Nobody wants one, and nobody needs one, even if it will give us a white Christmas.
Well, yesterday – and you will understand its importance in a minute – I decided it was time to clean out the refrigerator, in preparation for the feasts of Yuletide. Actually, I had been looking at the thing for a number of weeks, and trying to figure out just how many different condiments one family could possibly claim. All sorts of things that go way beyond the ketchup, mustard, mayonnaise and ranch dressing, we have had things in our refrigerator that have sat there for a long time. A long time. So I decided to move out the stuff one shelf at a time, and check the expiration dates on the things like duck sauce, and vinegar dressing and other items that were purchased for one meal at one time, and then retired to live comfortably at the back of the frig.
It always drives me nuts, because with all those items, there is no room to put anything of significance. Plus, if you do need one item, it’s usually hidden behind the mass of other sauces, liquids and four year old quick yeast.
So off I went. It’s amazing, at the end of 2020, how many items have been stored in our refrigerator since before their expiration in say, 2018, or even 2016. I started stacking them on the counter, and then it spread to a second counter, and pile on top of each other. Of course, I took the opportunity to clean off all the now-empty shelves, and to put back in the refrigerator the very few items that remained. The thing really looks great, with regained capacity, and without knowing it, I heard from my beloved that I had given her the best Christmas gift she could think of – a clean refrigerator.
That being done, I still had the task of actually throwing out the pounds and pounds of useless stuff. I found a big black garbage bag, and carefully dropped it all in there, which was fine, until I tried to lift it. Garbage weighs a lot! Finally, using both my hands and most of my strength, I hauled it into the garage.
The city had announced that due to the holiday week, all trash pickup would happen one day earlier than normal. I saw this as my chance. I opened the trash can, and what to my wondering eyes – it was just about completely full with pizza boxes, and Styrofoam order in lunch containers and such. Almost defeated, I then recalled the physics of a trash compactor. No matter how much is in a container, when downward pressure is exerted, there is usually room for more. I took three deep breaths like a weightlifter, and cleaned and jerked the black bag up and into the garbage can, letting it drop a good three feet. Remarkably, the trash including the bag now only took up about half the can, with enough room to put the other trash in, which also somehow weighed a ton this week.
Normally I put the trash out the morning of the pickup, but listening to the forecast, I figured I would get ahead of hauling it out in the wind and snow and park it at the end of the driveway last night. Brilliant, because it was really heavy, and to try to push it through snowdrifts would not have been fun.
About 3am I began to hear the wind. The wind is really an interesting thing because it’s invisible, and the sound it makes comes from nowhere. Early this morning, it didn’t matter where it came from, but it came! The wind right now is blowing straight out of the north at 45mph, with gusts over 61mph. Respectable. So, when I awoke for the final time at 6am, away to the window I flew like a flash, tore open the shutters and looked at the end of the driveway to see the condition of the garbage can. In our neighborhood, it is not uncommon to see cans in a wide range of conditions, with the lids off, turned cockeyed, and some blown clean into the middle of the street by the wind come sweeping down the plains. I looked out the window, and there it was, standing like the Washington Monument, unmoved. Sure, the lid had been slapped open, but between the heavy bag of normal trash and the monster black bag, I doubt any wind shy of a Cat-5 hurricane could move the garbage can!
My only concern, of course, is that as our blizzard continues to rage until tonight at midnight, whether the sanitation engineers have made the strategic decision to punt trash collection day, one day early, and kick back and watch the extreme winter weather. We will just have to see.
But the weather magicians were right this time. The threat of the weather, and then its onslaught meant that schools in Fargo are closed today, which gives an extra day of Christmas vacation. Actually, the concept of learning anything the day before Christmas break is pretty far-fetched, so I would guess the school officials just decided to punt it, I’m sure to the delight of the parents in Fargo who now had to figure out what to do with their children while they tried to work. Fortunately, with lots of things still shut down, people are working from home, so it’s just a matter of throwing food at the little darlings, turning on the TV and shutting the door.. Merry Christmas.
Of course, my dear wife, as a women’s health nurse practitioner, still had an open clinic today, so at 7am, her chauffeur, having warmed up the car, drove her the few miles to her work. What a mess. The only good thing is there were about 6 other cars on the road at that time. Still, you have to wonder why any woman would go out in this weather to go to the clinic for an appointment, especially two days before Christmas… Oh yeah – that’s right – school’s out and the kids are home. Time for Mom to go to her appointment… I’ll be back in a few hours or so…
So – let it snow. We live our lives in the midst of whatever the world brings to us. To believe and expect it will always be 72 degrees and sunny with a light breeze is pretty silly, unless you live in Hawaii, I guess. Actually, that’s something to consider. Anyway, it’ll be better tomorrow – a low of -10 and the wind will still be around, but it’ll be better, and it’ll be Christmas Eve!
Word for the Day: umbriferous. Pronounced um-BRIFF-er-us. Latin, of course, and when you hear where it comes from, it makes perfect sense. Umbra, meaning “shade,” and ferre, “to bear.” So the word simply means, “shady.” However, we find a couple of other words that come out of these first ones. “Umbrella” is Latin by way of Italian which means “little shade.” Now, you might think that “ferre” takes us to “ferry,” as someone is borne across a lake or river, but that is actually from Old English and German, meaning the very same thing – to carry or transport. Either way, most likely if you are in an umbriferous location, you won’t need an umbrella.
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.