I know, I know – it’s winter. For us in the Northland, however, this January (and a good deal of December) has meant the outdoors in stinking, stinking, really-cold-freeing weather to deal with. I’m not sure when it actually got above freezing, and it’s been rare for the “high” of the day to even be in the single digits above zero. Right now, in the heat of the afternoon, the temperature has climbed all the way to -6 degrees, with a wind chill of between -29 and -35, depending on when the wind whips up. That of course is better than a couple of days ago, when they were talking about windchills possibly hitting the -50. Now, I know those of us who live up here agreed to live up here, but I wouldn’t be opposed to the plan when it gets this cold, that we all just load up in a nice warm airplane and go to a tropical beach somewhere for the week. It’s a good plan, but I don’t think it’ll catch on. Of course, the folks who could already afford it left right around Christmas, and are playing golf in Arizona, or eating tex-mex in southern Texas today.
And, did I mention it’s been snowing almost every day? And what happens when it snows that much, with absolutely no chance of melting the mountains, driving even around town takes a whole different skill, and courage. I had to run to the grocery store a little while ago, and so after I made sure I had put the Iso-Heet additive in the gas tank to make sure the fuel line doesn’t freeze up, I headed out. In the distance of no more than a mile and a half, I encountered six different intersections at which I could simply not see if someone were driving toward me. Unable to see, combined with driving on nicely polished ice that they pretend to call a street means that after waiting a bit, it’s necessary to pull out into the connecting street, hoping that someone has not decided that this would be the day when they would drive as fast as they can down the ice. Makes you know you are alive, but it also makes you wonder if you really needed that package of cheddar cheese for tonight…
Now, we have four cars at our home, with three slots in the garage. What that means is that “someone” has to park on the driveway/snow shelf, and have their car enjoy the sub-sub zero thrill of – well, you get it. I really take a lot of care to make sure that all the cars are well-tuned and in good shape. Therefore, when I got into my car late yesterday afternoon, and started it up, as I noticed the sun shining on the windshield, my heart was not filled with joy as I discovered the crack in the glass, running from the bottom of the windshield and up about 2 feet into the middle of the window. I guess with all the snow that had landed on it, and the heat of the defroster meeting the way below zero other side of the glass, that it just decided to crack up. Nobody’s fault, no accident – it just cracked, and did so big enough that it can’t be fixed.
That of course sent me on the delightful mission of insurance and glass repair and scheduling. Good news is that since I am retired, I’m not having to head out down the interstate, hoping the entire windshield will stay intact. The insurance folks were nice enough to tell me it would only cost me the deductible of $250, which I guess is a steal when it comes to modern windshields that have heads up displays and rain-sensing automatic windshield wipers and such. Just between the two of us, however, I think I could have spent the $250 on something else, and been just as happy, or happier…
So, the repair happens on Friday morning, and we have other cars to drive until then, so long as we continue to start them and let them run to keep the battery in good shape. They say that actually there is going to be a warming trend starting tomorrow, and the still temperature may get all the way up to 28 degrees above zero! Of course, the forecasters are quick to say that it will come with winds gusting up to 40 mph, which again will bring the windchill down to the -20s or so.
A couple of things to realize at this time of the year: no lawn mowing, since you can’t see the grass under three foot of snow; also no grilling outside, since you can’t see the grill either. You do get to use the gas fireplace, which feels nice at the end of the day, and warms up the cats. And – it won’t last forever. Even broken windshields and freezing cold cars will give way to another month closer to spring, when daylight comes before 8am, and you can even begin to think about opening a window, or sweeping off the front porch.
For now, however, we wait, and do inside things, and express joy when “it’s not as cold as it was yesterday…” But it’s a fact that all of life is relative, right? I mean, yes, it’s winter in the Northland – what a shock. But when summer comes, and we sit out on the back patio with a nice breeze and 72 degrees, we will forget these days – sort of. It’s also important and good to remember that this indeed is the day the Lord has made, and our greatest task is to rejoice and be glad in it – even if it means you hope someone else in the family will go out and get the mail from the mailbox… When we intend to live in gratitude, instead of grumbling in despair, certainly that is the kind of worship God enjoys as we speak, and act and even think with thanks for what we have been given, and how today is truly worth living – cracked glass and all.
Blessings, and I pray for your day to be one in which you are able to find the words of joy to share. Talk with you soon.
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.