Important Update: My Toes Are Not Cold

Today was filled with wonderful moments and stressful ones.

Which really isn’t that different than any other day I suppose.

Except that today the things that brought me joy were the simple ones I often lose sight of in my day to dailies–a shared laugh, the perfect color of blue-green, the smiles of friends reflected in the light.  And the things that brought me stress were things that are also nearly always present–the ever growing dust bunny population, the inside of my pantry, my spider problem (okay, to be honest, even ONE is a problem, but yes, this is a thing), and the lack of action by my people the first time I ask them to do something.

I got to the end of the evening, having just sat down here to write, and I noticed Miss Sophie panting.  She ran around and had the best time outside this evening, and she just enticed two of us to play her twisted game of Fetch.  She’s worn out, but I also realized she is probably warm.

Warm.

In that moment, I did a quick assessment and realized, my toes aren’t cold.

My toes are NOT cold.

Well, hallelujah and color me ecstatic!

While some may claim we’ve had a mild winter or that I’m a wimp, I still have to say that my toes have been cold for months.  I’VE been cold for months.

And, no offense to Winter or anything, I’m over it.

Tonight in the hustle and chaos that comes with even the best of things, I had slipped in and out of my sandals several times, and it didn’t fully register with me.

Y’ALL, I WORE SANDALS FOR THE FIRST TIME AGAIN TODAY.

And this wasn’t the “flip flops are the only thing by the door, I’m only running out to the car, surely my toes won’t fall off frozen in those three minutes” kind of wearing sandals.  This was no kidding, this is the attire of choice AND weather appropriate.

WEATHER APPROPRIATE.  I don’t know if Spring is really here, since my Granny always warned about the Easter Cold Snap and we have two more weeks until Easter, but what I can tell you is TODAY WAS GLORIOUS.

And yet, in the midst of it, I was totally oblivious to my toes’ joy.  I wasn’t fully appreciating that this was what they’d been waiting on for months, until I sat down and reflected on it tonight.

 

Y’all.  We wait on something.  We hope for something.  We think on it and, in the middle of a cold season, we dream of what it might be like for that thing to BE.  And then one day it is, and so much is going on, we have a hard time recognizing it and really getting that, WE MADE IT.  All the good has come that we dreamt of, and we are so distracted, it just slides right in there as our reality and we don’t even notice it or fully appreciate it at first.

Here’s to the moments of realizing the joy of being warm, of finding light, of wishes and hopes becoming reality.  Here’s to all of us who dream in winter of longer days and laughter and love and toes that aren’t cold.  And here’s to those realities that just slip in the back door and surprise us so much we laugh out loud and wiggle our happy toes.

Love to all.

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Happy toes.  Unpainted, yes.  But Happy.

 

Her Lovely and Gentle Ways

Today found Winter clinging to every last bit she could, refusing to let go of the grip she had on my toes.  I am so tired of being cold, weary, and of coming home in the dark.

But on this day, when Winter was hanging on for all she was worth, her genteel sister crept out from behind the veil where she was hiding and whispered.  As her breath hit the air, it warmed slightly.  It was as though she were timid and not ready to be seen in large gatherings, but still–I caught a glimpse.  It would seem she took a little walk and left in her wake her dainty little footprints in the form of the blossoms that bowed and nodded as a gentle breeze wafted through–the pink a shade of blush or bashful, I couldn’t be quite sure which.

In the air, all around serenaded her, trying their best to convince her to stay as the birds sang their songs and frog music played in the background.  Even the sun put on a show for her before he headed for bed, inviting her to stay over and continue her visit tomorrow.

Ahhh, well, as the sun parted company with the sky, and all grew dark, I knew she had left us for a bit, uncertain if the timing was right or not.  As my soul thirsts for bare feet and warm grass and the kiss of the golden sun on my face, I do hope she will feel more at home tomorrow.  Or the next day.  And maybe she will set up camp and plan to stay for a while longer than a day here or there.

I’ve missed her.

And all of her lovely and gentle ways.

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prunus persica in bloom

The Birds Don’t Have a Weather App

The past couple of days have been unseasonably warm here in Georgia.  I’m not complaining, mind you, but while I enjoyed the warm air and I think my toes might actually have defrosted, I knew better than to trust it.

Sure enough, yesterday just before dark when Miss Sophie and I ventured out, there was a nip in the air again.

*sigh*

I know we haven’t had the snow to deal with like so many in our nation, but I live here for a reason.  (Well for several, but the pertinent one right now is that I don’t do snow.)

I thought I loved it when I was a child.  I think that had to do with how it caused school to be called off.  Just the threat of it sometimes was all it took.  As an adult though, I do not care for it at all.  Sure, it’s pretty, but it’s cold and slushy and just COLD.

This morning when I took Miss Sophie out for her morning constitutional, I opened the door, and the wind and cold took my breath away.

Do what?

Holding the leash in one hand, I immediately used my other one to open up my phone and look at the weather app.  I wanted to KNOW.  I mean I knew it was cold, but I wanted to know “how cold.”  (Because apparently my nose freezing up immediately and my breath coming out in visible puffs and not being able to feel my fingers wasn’t evidence enough.)

39.  Wind chill 34.

See?  I KNEW it was cold.

As we walked and I urged Miss Sophie to tend to her business a little faster, I listened to the birds singing.  I saw the cat Domino.  They didn’t need an app to know it was cold.  They didn’t have an app to prepare them for this cold weather.  They just existed.  I wondered if they were able to read signs that our people once paid close attention to.  I don’t know of many who can read the old weather signs much anymore.  We depend on the News Reports and the weather apps and there’s even that whole channel dedicated to weather and all that goes with it.

For goodness’ sake, I KNEW it was cold, and I still had to double-check the app.

It amazes me how dependent we as a people (okay ME) have become on electronics and the internet and all of these apps.

I’m not saying it’s a bad thing, but I do wonder what would have happened if I tried to pull out my phone and tell my Granny what the weather was going to be next week.  I’m thinking I might have gotten an earful.

The thing is today was cold.  Next week (according to the app) it will be warmer.  But I don’t trust it.  I know March 20 is the first day of spring, but I also know that Easter isn’t until April 5.  Granny always said there’d be an Easter cold snap.  That’s why folks who know don’t plant their gardens until Good Friday, two days before Easter.  And every single year, I’ve watched spring tease us and then step back and let that cold snap come right in and take over for a bit.  Granny was right.

Every single time.  Without an app.

Tonight I’m thankful for the birds and the cat (and all the other critters–except the snakes and spiders, I can only be so charitable) who survive and even thrive despite the cold.  I’m thankful for whatever tips them off that it’s going to be cold so they can do what they need to do to be okay.  I’m thankful for the wisdom of the folks from way back–knowing about things like Easter cold snaps–that they passed along the line.  Most of all, I’m thankful that, even though it’s not quite here, there is a light at the end of the frozen tunnel–and its name is spring.

Love and warm wishes to all.

 

Ambiguity and Winter–I’m done with you both

I do not like ambiguity.  And we’ve had a lot of it.

The weather here in middle Georgia.  Are we on the line above the freeze zone or below it?  Need to be prepared or not?  Will it snow?  Should I have made one more trip to the grocery store?

We don’t know what we don’t know.

My little guy’s well-being.  When we got home from our Tuesday adventures tonight, he was suddenly stricken with tummy pain and yes, he’s got something.  But is it just a simple tummy bug?  Or something worse?  Should I wait it out?  Take him to the doctor?  Should I let him sleep in a bed or should we stay crashed out on the couch–which can be more easily cleaned?

We don’t know what we don’t know.

There are so many of these situations that I cross paths with each day.  Should I do this?  Does this warrant me getting upset?  I just don’t ever know.  For sure.

Today in our Sister Circle, which I have really missed the past two weeks (ice one week and then sick Princess the next), we were talking about courage.  What that looks like.  What we need it for.  When and where we can find it.

One of my sweet and spunky sisters Miss P saw our life journeys like this:  “It’s like we have this GPS that tells us how to get where we are going.  But it can’t tell us if there’s going to be a delay because of an accident or a roadblock or a tree down in the road or whatever.  It can only give us directions, not prepare us for what might come along.”

Wow.  Yes.  That is exactly the truth.  On this journey we come across all kinds of things we didn’t know about and weren’t prepared for.   We just have to keep on going anyway.

I think the point of much of life and a sign of courage is to keep on going even when we don’t know.  Even in the ambiguity.  When my little fella Cooter was screaming (yes at the top of his lungs) from his stomach pain a little while ago, I was really close to having a panic attack.  How bad was this?  What could be causing him this much pain?  Instead I breathed, suggested he do the same, and we both got “okay.”  His stomach still hurt, and I was still worried, but it was all a little more manageable.

I guess that’s what I need to remember to do.  Accept the ambiguities and do the best I can with what I do know at the time.

But I really do hate not knowing if the winter storm is going to hit here or not.  Winter, I suggest you straighten yourself out and start behaving a little better.  Your sister Summer doesn’t misbehave like this.  She’s hot, she might have a storm or two, but it comes when expected and leaves fairly quickly.  No, I don’t want to hear about 1994 and all that rain. Or tornadoes.  Let it go.  We’re talking about you and these crazy ice and snowstorms right now.  Get it together and pack your bags, Winter.  No ambiguity about this, I want it to be perfectly clear–it is time for you to go.

Love to all.  And wishes for happy tummies and ice-free days for all too.

 

Just Because You Can

Today’s bit of Wednesday wisdom is something my parents told me many times over the years.  This is brought to you by the headache I’ve been fighting for a few days.  These words have echoed in my head all day long.  (Perhaps contributing to the headache?)

We often tell our children and ourselves that we should do something even if we don’t want to, but somehow we tend to forget this other message. Sometimes we see things we want and have a few extra dollars in our pockets or we have the fixings for something decadent and our sweet tooth is calling out–but maybe it’s not always the right thing to do.

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One of the hardest lessons to learn as a grownup I think.

Speaking of hard lessons for grownups, here’s a story that you have to read.

http://www.redletterchristians.org/folks-live-outside-need-hugh-hollowell-red-carpet/

If you read nothing else today, please make time for this one.  It is powerful.  Hugh Hollowell, one of my heroes, was interviewed and his answers speak the truth.  “There should be no ‘others’.”  The “Not taking Jesus seriously” problem in the church.  Well said and challenging.  As we sit and watch the temperatures drop yet again over the next few days and children wish for snow and piles of it, our hearts to Mac and his friends and all of those whose names we don’t know who are sleeping on the cold ground with the wind howling around their blankets and sleeping bags.  The first light of morning, the coldest hours of the night, come upon them like a big sigh of relief.  They have made it.  The day shelter and warmth are just a couple of hours away.

If you pray, please keep them in your prayers the next few days.  And keep us, those who can make a choice, those who have the power to make a difference with our hearts and hands, in your prayers too.  Sometimes, every now and then, just because we can, we SHOULD.

If you are cold, they are cold–who’s bringing them inside?

My oldest’s favorite song over the holidays was “Baby It’s Cold Outside.”  Yes, it’s a disconcerting song when you really listen to the words.  But if you listen to the Pearl Bailey and Hot Lips Page version (my favorite) of it from 1949, you soon realize that the woman who voiced “Big Mama” from “The Fox and the Hound” is really the one in charge.

But I digress.

My point is, baby, it’s cold outside.

Or it will be.  Lows in the teens Monday and Tuesday nights.

It’s going to be bad y’all.  We are just not equipped to handle weather like this down here in Georgia.  I haven’t gone to the grocery store, but I’m guessing the bread and milk is almost gone.  That’s what our people do, stock up on bread and milk and other essentials when even the hint of bad weather comes along.

So many very caring people in social media have been posting pictures and warnings to remind people to bring the animals in from outside.

pic of bring pets in

I know they are well-intentioned, but…..

For the love.

I have yet to see one asking us to take care of our brothers and sisters who are out in this horrible cold.

Why is that, do you think?

It breaks my heart.

Since hearing the weather alerts, I haven’t heard of any extra shelter being provided for my friends who have no home to stay safe from the elements in.  I don’t know what most of them will do.  With a low of 13 and windchill much below that, how will they manage to make it through the night?  And what will it take for us to call on each other to help a person in need?  To share a picture over and over on Facebook and Twitter and Instagram, calling us not to forget the two-legged creatures, the human beings, out in the weather?

I don’t have the answers.  I know people in need, and I know some of the resources.  Shoot, I have a warm house myself.  But I don’t know what the solution is.  I don’t know what I’m supposed to do in the midst of this.  But I do know that I used to love a few days of really cold weather each winter, and now it turns my stomach, just the thought of it.  And right now, doing nothing is not an option for me.  I just can’t let this go.

How many fellow human beings will we have to lose, how many have to die, literally freezing to death, before we start working a little harder to make an effort to change things?

Tonight I looked on the local news website–the one where they are making children happy (or not) by listing the school closings.  I looked to see if there was any news about churches opening their fellowship halls or allowing folks to sleep in their pews the next couple of nights.  I found nothing about emergency shelter of any sort.  So the few shelters in the areas that are already filled to capacity are all that there are, I guess.  I am frustrated, and I am mad.  Why aren’t the churches turning up the heat and opening their doors?  Wasn’t the one whom many claim to follow also without “a place to lay his head?”  (Matthew 8:20, Luke 9:58, the Good Book)  In my opinion, if they can’t open their doors to those in need Monday through Saturday, then why bother on Sunday?  In extreme cases like this–with emergency shelter needed so badly–how can they make any other choice?  And why wasn’t a game plan discussed and made last summer, before it was needed?  Why aren’t we being more proactive for people in need?

Y’all, the message of “If you are cold, they are cold” applies to human beings too.

Tonight at Evening Prayer we talked about our concerns and what is and is not available for our friends and those we don’t know who are without shelter.  As we talked about the posts in favor of folks bringing their pets in, we wondered if there was one recognizing the inhumanity of people sleeping out in the elements.  Thanks to my friend who designed this and sent it this evening.  It cuts to the heart of the matter.

Thanks to my friend for creating and sharing this.

Thanks to my friend for creating and sharing this.

The thing is each one of these people once belonged to someone, maybe still do.  They have names and stories, feelings and dreams, and they matter.  Each and every one.  No matter the choices that may or may not have led to them living as they do, they deserve another chance just as much as you or I.  And each one deserves to be in out of the horrible cold we are facing.  In a safe, warm place.

That song–Aub’s favorite?  The reason that this version is my favorite is because Hot Lips Page sounds an awful lot like my friend Robert.  Same voice, same intonations–it’s almost eerie, except it always makes me smile.  I haven’t heard his voice or had one of his bear hugs in real life in a while.  And now, well, I don’t know what his situation is–whether he’s still in a boarding house or back living on the streets.  All I know is, I’m sure hoping and praying he’s okay, wherever he is.  And I really, really miss him.

A few nights ago the temperature dipped pretty low.  The next morning my phone rang and it was the number from Daybreak, the day shelter in Macon.  It was Mac calling me to let me know he was all right.  I was so thankful to get that call.  The last time I saw him, just before Christmas, he was in a wet overcoat and his clothes were pretty damp too.  His temper and pride kept him from getting them clean and dry before he wandered back across and down a little known path to his camp for the time being.  I was worried.  Wet and cold and do not bode well, especially this time of year when so many are coming down with all kinds of illnesses.  So yes, the phone call meant a lot.  He hurt himself at the New Year’s Eve festivities downtown last Tuesday night, so getting around is more difficult than usual for him.  We talked for a few minutes, and then he said, “Well I just wanted you to know I’m all right.  I made it.  And I love ya, sister.”

I love you too, brother.

I am fearful of the day when that call might not come.

Something has to change.