By the way, if you haven’t noticed, today is 10-20-2020. Lots of zeros and twos for today’s date. Not quite as good as last February 2, which was 02-02-2020, but it’s close.
Anyway, as I woke up this morning, I knew there would be two things I could really count on: roast beef and snow. A few days ago, on my forage mission to the grocery store, I found a very nice looking chuck roast to buy. Now, the only thing that was disconcerting was that, in times past, you could buy a chuck roast for a couple of quarters or something – it was truly the cheapest cut of roast imaginable. Not so anymore. For what I bought top sirloin just last summer, I am now buying chuck roast. Seems nuts, but sometimes you just need to vary your menu a bit, and it was time. Even then, an expensive chuck roast is still cheaper than ordering a meal from a restaurant to be delivered. So this morning, I pulled out the slow cooker, added the various spices and delicious whatevers to the pot and to the roast, and sent it on its way.
Now here is my hope: I hope that today’s roast will turn out to be moist and delicious and something not hard and dry and gag-you-in-the-throat. I’m not really a gambling guy, but the past number of roasts have turned out to be not much more than door stops with onions on them. I mean, I’ll even sing it a lullaby if it will make the thing be juicier and more flavorful. We’ll just have to see, as the day progresses. So, I can count on us having roast beef for dinner. I cannot, however, count on having GOOD roast beef. Is that something I can pray about? Is God interested in my taste buds? Is there a divine ritual for the creation of juicy beef?
The second thing just started. The weather folks have been predicting this first winter storm for about four days. Actually, it has turned into a two-part miniseries. Sunday, they told us we were to get between a trace of snow (I don’t know how you measure that – I just call it “embarrassment snow,” because not enough falls to respect at all. You almost want to avert your eyes, as the “trace” sits there in all its worthless snowiness. Now, I must say that when we lived in Nashville, the first time it snowed that first winter, the entire city went crazy. The “embarrassment snow” sent folks careening off trees and into ditches, and they ended up closing down the city – for what was probably an inch and a half of snow.) and one inch. It really was not going to be much of anything.
Yesterday morning, the forecast shifted to 1-2 inches of snow. That’s still not worth taking the snow shovel out for. Then, last night, and into this morning, we now are expecting three inches of snow, and some pretty good wind. I don’t know who decided to bring all this extra snow with them, but we can still handle three inches. We’ll just drive over it.
However, the whispers began yesterday. “There’s a possibility of a more significant winter storm to move in on Thursday…” Yep – those possible forecasts are really lots of fun up in this area. Everyone becomes meteorologists, checking their favorite four or five weather sites to see which model offers either the best or the most drastic forecast. “I heard it’s only going to be another couple of inches.” “Well, I read that we are supposed to get 6-8 inches with some wind…” “Well, what they are saying could happen, if the front moves a little north, and stalls, we could get around 12-15 inches!” Of course, those predictions, like the ones the weather reporters make, just fade into the sheetrock when it turns out they were really far off, and all we get is another “trace.”
This one on Thursday, though, seems to have gotten everyone’s attention. Over six inches does make an impact on getting around easily, and increases the accident factor by a good number. Part of that happens, I must say, because it is the first true real sort of major storm, and the streets, while still warm, get icy and people just forget how to stop at a distance. Part of it – and I’m sure I will get criticism for this – we have some new “friends” who have come to make their home in our northern city. These folks have come from parts of our world that have never seen snow, but also, at the same time, have never seen a driver’s education course. It’s not that Scandinavians can’t get into car crashes. It just seems that the frequency and the passion with which our new neighbors approach car crashes are truly eye-catching. I used to find excuses not to drive in the snow in Nashville. It wasn’t because I didn’t know how to drive in it – it was because I didn’t have the device activated on my car which would immediately levitate it to avoid the out of control driver coming toward me.
One of the major disappointments of big storms, however, is what CoVid has brought to our culture. I can remember even when I was small and living in South Carolina, that when two inches of snow fell (like a foot falling in Fargo), children all over the region would shout for joy over hearing the words, “The Superintendent of Schools has declared a Snow Day for all students and teachers today.” As quickly as we could, we would find our snow suits and boots and gloves, and head out to do whatever there was to do in the snow – for the entire day, only pausing occasionally for hot cocoa and marshmallows, handed out by wonderful mothers who invited us to go back outside and spend a few more hours out of the house.
What we have experienced, however, with the pandemic, along with the tragedies it has brought, is the culturally devastating development of the END of Snow Days. With the creation of distance learning, or at-home teaching, the diabolical leaders of the school systems have figured out that, if there were a snow event that would keep the kids from coming to school, they could simply switch over to the distance learning mode, and with the snow falling wonderfully all around, the children would be trapped inside, staring at a monitor and having to actually learn something, as though the snow didn’t matter. Think of the engineering practice that will be lost, with no snowmen being built. Think of the art and crafts exercise shut down with no snow angels being formed. Think of the physics, physical exercise and small arms training that goes away when there are no snowball fights to be had. A way of life will vanish. There’s not fun playing in snow that fell while someone is stuck inside – learning.
Still, Thursday is coming. And today is here, with snow falling, and roast simmering, and life still being lived as a gift, with whatever happens around us. That’s the thing about living – no matter what unexpected joys, or expected disappointments may come, no matter what hopes are met, or fears also met, we live. We live and breathe and move and unless we are terribly cynical, we can call life good, and become intentional on giving thanks for even having it snow with no snow days, and knowing we can always eat the potatoes if the roast is chewy. I hope and pray that all that is abundant and joyful will come your way today. Just brush the snow off.
Word for the day: cafard. Pronounced kah-fard, it actually is part of a larger French phrase, “avoir le cafard” – ah-vwa-leu-kah-fard. It literally means in French, “to have the cockroach.” Typical French – making no sense, until you understand the true meaning, which is to have the blues, to feel blue or depressed, from the French “depression.” Apparently, “having the cockroach” will give you a pretty good dose of the unhappies! Even stranger, the word was often used to describe the apathy or depression experienced by white people in the tropics. Even living in paradise, apparently one can hold an overwhelming sense of depression. So, the next time someone asks you how you are doing, you can conjure up your best Pepe LePew accent, and say, “Avoir le cafard!” Then look down and shake your head. That’ll get some attention. Or maybe just a cockroach.
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.