I rolled the trash can out to the curb before dawn this morning. It’s hard to know exactly when they are going to come and pick up the trash, so better early than never, I guess. I must say it’s also MUCH easier to roll a filled trash can out to the end of the driveway when you are not having to trailblaze through four or five inches of snow. I guess Spring indeed has come – sort of.
This morning, it was still in the teens as we woke up. It was kind of a cold turn back in temps from waking up and having it in the 40s right away. Today’s high will barely get into the 40s, but then again, next Monday holds the promise of another 72 degree day. It seems everyday is an adventure, and a great opportunity to rotate coats and jackets, even in springtime.
For the last four days, apparently, we have been riding on the edge of either a cold front or a warm front or some other front, because the wind has been relentless. I know it’s windy everywhere, except for perhaps New Orleans, where I lived and for most of a year, it seemed that the wind never blew, and as a result, never shuttled away the consistent aroma of outside trashcans cooking three-day old chicken. It just all settled down on us, like a stinky blanket. But here in North Dakota, it’s not that we pride ourselves on the wind, but it just seems to be a fact that, without many trees, and with a landscape that is a little flatter than the pancake you fry on Sunday morning, there is nothing to hold the wind back when it decides to blow. That is, there is nothing to hold the wind back from the upper regions of the Northwest Territories near the Arctic Ocean in Canada, as it begins to blow and then picks up speed over Alberta, and then rolls in like a runaway basketball across the Dakotas plains.
Yesterday, for instance, it was supposed to climb into the 50s in the afternoon. In the morning, however, it was about 30 degrees, but when we walked out of the house, and came around the corner of the garage, the north wind that had been hiding out there, waiting for us to come, pummeled us with 35 mph winds, and gusts before we could get to the car of over 50 mph. It makes a difference which way you park your car in the North Dakota, as to whether you will either be able to open the car door against the north wind, or have the south wind on those days when nature decides to change things up, to nearly tear your car door out of your hands and fling it against the poor car next to you.
Now, I’m sure there are other places in our beautiful country, like West Texas and the slopes of the Rockies, where similar winds blow without any concern that they might be stopped by, oh, let’s say, a tree… Up here, however, when we check the forecast and it says it might be breezy, that means it’s a good idea to hang on for dear life, because the wind is unrelenting. It’s a little better in town, because you have buildings, and even some trees planted that slows the onslaught, but yesterday, when I headed out to a new part of town, where nothing had been planted, it was – well, it was really windy. I could barely open the door to the building I wanted to enter.
Now, we kind of like the wind in the summer, because with it blowing that strong, no mosquito has a chance to land on the back of our knees and suck our life’s essence out of us. But in the winter, it’s horrible, and in the early to mid-spring – it’s still the pits. The wind just never stops!
That’s why this morning was a near miracle. With 19 degrees on the thermometer, I walked out, and rolled the trash can to its destination, and then walking back, I realized: there was no wind! I looked carefully at the empty tree branches, and they were completely still. I looked across the street to the side of the neighbor’s house where their furnace exhausted, and the vapor just sat there, without whipping around to the back of their house like usual.
I almost wanted to bring out a folding lawn chair, and sit and enjoy things for a while – except it was 19 degrees, and I needed to start the car to warm things up a bit before taking Cheri to work. Still, I walked slowly back to the garage, almost savoring the sensation of not having to lean into an invisible force. It was close to delightful. I know – kind of a silly thing to remark about, but you have to live here to understand that feeling. It’s like when it rains in the desert, or when the skies are clear over Los Angeles, instead of smog. It’s a calm day here in the Dakotas.
Yes, I know – tomorrow we can expect snow and rain, and winds up to 40mph. But it’s a pretty nice day today – if it gets above freezing.
Each of us has our “normal” day. For some, it’s an usual pattern of weather, like being able to play golf every day in Palm Springs. For others, a normal day requires the same or similar tasks to be done, or things to be observed. Yet, there are some days when it all changes, or what we are used to, is no longer true. I was driving yesterday in town, when I suddenly had to slam on the brakes, because Mr. and Mrs. Canadian Goose were waddling across the street. It’s Spring here, and we have been inundated by the birds returning from somewhere in the south. Many have become quite urban, and there are quite a few unfortunate meetings of car and bird, and I at least had the awareness to pump the brakes, in part so the car that was hurtling toward me at the rear of my car might also slow down and let the geese go by. Certainly something I wasn’t expecting! Kind of like a nice calm day in Fargo.
I hope you have the opportunity to experience something out of the ordinary in your life today – and a good something. I hope you find yourself surprised by what comes to exist before your very eyes, or you feel a significant change, at least temporarily. In our COVID time, as I’ve mentioned before, it seems nothing ever changed. Perhaps it’s time to do a new thing, to experience a new thing, to live a new life, and to discover indeed what God has in store for us as a surprise – even if it is a calm day…
Word for the day: fatidical. Pronounced fuh-TID-ick-ul. Doesn’t it sound Latin to you? It is, and comes from one simple, and two very simple Latin words: fatidicus, which is also broken down into fatum, meaning “fate, or what is spoken,” and dicere, “to speak.” So, fatidical really means to “tell the fate,” or to be prophetic in some way. Now, there have been fatidical speakers from probably the beginning of time, as humans crave the knowledge of what “might be,” or “will be.” There is nothing more satisfying than having our own “fatidical” utterances come true, as though any of us has the real ability to look into the future, and see conclusively what will happen before its happened. Sometimes Cheri and I will read our horoscope, when we get a paper. Sometimes, when I read them out loud, I will switch ours around, and read to Cheri her horoscope, which is really mine. Either one sounds very plausible, like “You may get a special phone call.” (Notice the word, “may…”) or “Be careful with your money this evening.” (So, otherwise, be foolish with it at other times?)
Go ahead and enjoy your own fatidical exercises – just avoid taking yourself too seriously…
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.