A cozy 10 degrees here. But that's a +10°, not a -10°, which is a very large difference. I know which is worse. In about an hour, our intention is to drive to nearby donut shop (DD) to make the twice-per-year meetup with my sister and her husband. They are both on staff at a very liberal christian college in central Virginia, and graciously consent to spend an hour with us twice per year. Roads being ice covered and treacherous, getting back on their way with a possibility of arrival before full darkness hits, makes good sense. I do love my sister, and her husband is o.k. Married more than 25 years now, no kids, which in their case was wise.
I am reminded that in just two days, we will -- Lord willing -- encounter to Winter Solstice, the first day of Winter and the shortest day (of daylight) of the year. The Vernal Equinox, the first official day of Spring, will be 90 days in the future. That's the good news. The bad news is that the Solstice does not equate to a return of warm breezes and sunshine and all that. Hardly. Not in these parts, at least. The worst of the cold is, probably, before us. In this area particularly, which has some "odd" things that go on. For example, the St. Patrick's Day Blizzard. St. Patrick's Day in 2017 is on Friday, the 17th of March, almost the same day as that above mentioned Vernal Equinox (Monday, March 20, at 06:29). Yet, in this area in particular, there is a HEAVY expectation, born out of years and years of experience, that this very day will have a very heavy snowstorm. Calling it a blizzard is probably a bit much, but there certainly have been significant snowfalls on that day, quite often. So, as I said, weather predictions for this area over the next 3-1/2 months are not likely to encourage shorts and flip-flops. Quite the contrary. As a result, we expect at least 3, probably 4. more months of cold and snow and gray skies and all of that.
I hear the term "seasonal affective disorder". That probably translates into "hates cold and snow", which doesn't sound like a "disorder" at all, it sounds like good sense.
Now, I realize full well that kvetching about the weather is pointless, though it's one of those age-old behaviors of humankind.. I realize that when you get above, say, the 36th parallel of northern latitude, weather will get cold in the winter. Here it's worsened by the presence of the Great Lakes, providing moisture to the prevailing winds coming out of Alberta, Canada. Hence, snow in quantity. Yes, it's pretty much built in. But having lived below that 36th parallel for quite a number of years, I have some nice memories of NEVER seeing snow, and others of rarely seeing it. I liked that a lot better.
It's not "just" the lousy weather, it just accentuates an area that is depressing enough in itself. This area was once a moderately prosperous industrial area. People moved here from all over the world. Within a 25-mile radius of where I sit, I can find Amish (my cousins) who came here from Switzerland and the Palatinate, escaping horrible religious persecutions from the Lutherans, Calvinists, Russian Orthodox, and a few Roman Catholic officials. Here are groups whose ancestors came from Poland, Hungary, Austria (my late father-in-law), Ireland, Wales, Corsica, Spain, Lebanon, Egypt, Russia, Puerto Rico, Cuba, Norway, Finland, Sicily (my late mother-in-law's parents), Italy, Syria, Rumania, Ukraine, Germany, Croatia, Slovenia, Serbia, Slovakia, and others. They worked the mines, the worked the steel mills, they worked the farms, and the rail roads and the barges and the trucks, they ran the restaurants and groceries, they had children in the schools and supported the churches and synagogues. That was "then". Seems like centuries ago. Now? Now I drive past rows of closed factories and stores. Past empty buildings that once housed schools and churches. Past weed-covered lots where houses stood, once. Now gone. Entire streets being erased from the city maps so they don't have to do upkeep on the water and sewer lines or the fire hydrants. Some being repurposed as "urban farms". Others being -- clandestinely -- planted with marijuana, or providing venues for cockfighting operations and the gambling associated with them. Or where bodies are too often found, bearing marks of violence, or of a drug addiction with one too many overdoses of heroin or the like. Where prostitutes ply their trade behind a bar or "party shop". Where generational alcoholism is common, as is fetal alcohol syndrome. Or the spectacle of "crack babies' is not a rarity. Where hope is a stranger. With the gray skies and cold overshadowing all of it.
This is what I see all around, daily.
Both issues are beyond human remedy. Perhaps we are called to be instruments of the Lord's work on the matter, but I don't see which way to move. And am as powerless to address the human issues, as I am to remedy the lousy weather. Depressing.
This was a quiet weekend here. Had ice storms come through Saturday night, made the region a sheet of ice. We stayed home, stayed in, matter of fact. In the late afternoon, Dear Wife trundled across the back yard to her niece's place so as to 'watch" the great-niece as the parents went off to a company Christmas party. Little One is now 4, as of Saturday. When we made the Great Move, she was just about to turn 1 year old, couldn't walk or talk. Now she runs and jumps all over, talks non-stop. Not terribly well, but about what you expect from one that age. It is neat, I confess, to watch that development, remembering those days with our daughters, so many years ago.
Today we open another of the "minor prophets", Micah. Chapters 1, 2, and 3.
I confess that I had long slid through this without a great deal of attention. That was wrong. That was very wrong. There is a great deal here to "chew on".
The evening's reading is chapter 10 of the Revelation.