Posted tagged ‘winter days’

“It is what you read when you don’t have to that determines what you will be when you can’t help it.”

February 4, 2016

Some mornings I am Cinderella. Blue birds are singing and helping me get dressed. They alight on my shoulder and tweet a lovely song. The world is a happy place. Today is not one of those mornings. The phone woke me up, but I didn’t answer. I knew it was the first robocall. Several more will follow. I went back to sleep. Fern woke me up with her constant meowing. I tried to ignore her, but she was far too loud and grating. The meowing was my fault-the water dish was almost empty. I filled it and went back to bed. Gracie then got restless and went downstairs. I tried to go back to sleep. It didn’t work. I went to brush my teeth and found a cat had been sick on the hall floor. I cleaned it up. Next I went downstairs, ran out into the pouring rain and got my paper. I then noticed the dog had gotten sick on the rug. She always aims for that rug. I cleaned it up. The coffee went on. I started to read the paper and then I realized it was quiet: all the animals were sleeping. That was my morning.

On winter days the choices were limited. After school we’d bike if the weather was winter warm. Snow still on the ground meant sledding but only for a few runs. The dark came early. By twilight we were done. On really cold days we were stuck inside school during the day and in the house the rest of the time. The walk home was our only outside and it was freezing.

Most times I never minded staying inside. I’d cozy up with a book. That was all I needed. Sometimes, though, I’d get bored. There was nothing to do. I couldn’t go outside and risk frostbite. Good TV was an hour or so away. I didn’t want to read anymore. I didn’t want to talk anybody. I didn’t know what I wanted.

I still get bored. Sometimes I just throw up my hands in surrender and go take a nap.  Other times Gracie and I go for a ride. I never stay bored long. There are so many choices now, but I usually seem to choose the standby, reading. The afternoon disappears while I’m caught by a book. I forget about boredom.

“Man’s goodness is a flame that can be hidden but never extinguished.”

December 6, 2013

The phone woke me up close to eleven. I just let it ring. It was a telemarketer who left no message, an assumption on my part but I think I’m right. I heard it all, including the click of the receiver, as I didn’t even bother to move to answer the phone. (I’m going to complain a bit here so skip down to line 9 if you want to miss the groaning.) My back is horrific every morning. I wake up, crawl my way to the edge of the bed and wait until the stiffness goes away. Mornings bring the worst of the pain. I wait, patient and still, until I can move without the neighbors hearing me scream. Gracie looks up, sees me sitting, decides all is well and lies right back down on the bed. Fern meows, turns on her back and expects scratches and pats: so much for their sympathy. Meanwhile, I am Igor working my way to the bathroom. As I move around, my back starts to feel better but the pain stays all day, just a bit abated. Monday I’ll give the doctor a call though I’m not sure which one-I guess the surgeon. I call them my stable of doctors.

(Line 9 for those skippers among you) Today is another rainy, dreary day, but I don’t mind a day like today in winter. Summer, though, is far different. I always think I’ve been cheated if a summer day isn’t perfect, but my standards are much lower for winter when a day can be anything. If I assumed for a moment the guise of Pollyanna and played her Glad Game, I’d say, “I’m glad it’s raining. At least it’s not snowing.” That almost makes me gag. I think I’m long past my Pollyanna days.

When I was sixteen, my family dragged me to Maine for a few days. We were at a friend’s cottage. One of the neighbors came in to say hello. She was from South Africa. I was intrigued and a bit jealous and told her Africa was one of the places I’d most like to visit. She asked if I was talking about colored Africa. Seriously, I missed entirely what she meant. It wasn’t naivety. It was just I hadn’t ever heard that term before. Into my head popped green tropical forests, cloths of patterns and colors and fruit: yellow, red, green fruit. I told her yes. She explained that my life would be in danger, and I would be a target, a white target. I started to argue because I then understood what she meant by colored Africa. My mother put a stop to my rantings and shooed me outside.

When I was in Ghana, we were told we could anywhere except South Africa. No one needed to explain why. South Africa was apartheid, and Peace Corps espouses the opposite. In all its literature, Peace Corps calls the commitment a cross-cultural experience, but it is so much more. For most of us, Ghana became home. We absorbed all we could and became part of the whole landscape of Ghana: its customs and its people, the wonderful colored people of Ghana.

Nelson Mandela guided South Africa from apartheid to multi-racial democracy. He served 27 years in prison and turned this imprisonment into a tool to create political change and national liberty. In 1993, Mandela and President de Klerk were jointly awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for their work toward dismantling apartheid.

Nelson Mandela was inaugurated as the country’s first black president on May 10, 1994, at the age of 77, with de Klerk as his first deputy.

On December 5, 2013, at the age of 95, Nelson Mandela died at his home in Johannesburg, South Africa. President Zuma released a statement later that day, in which he spoke to Mandela’s legacy: “Wherever we are in the country, wherever we are in the world, let us reaffirm his vision of a society … in which none is exploited, oppressed or dispossessed by another.”

“And finally Winter, with its bitin’, whinin’ wind, and all the land will be mantled with snow.”

December 9, 2011

The wind won’t go away. It is even stronger than the last few days, but it’s a bit warmer at 49°. Yesterday I heard someone complaining about the cold. I guess all those November days in the mid-50’s spoiled us, but we’ll survive. We all know about winter in New England.

Today is errand day, and I have a huge list geographically organized. My cards got done last night, according to schedule, so the post office is first on my list. Gracie will be glad as the dump is second.

I remember when I was a kid and the first snow of the season would start to fall. When one of us noticed the flakes, we’d all run to the window and watch. In front of my house, at the bottom of the front grassy hill, was a street light. We’d watch the snow falling in the gleam of the light. I remember the snow sometimes fell sideways because of the wind. If the flakes were really large, we never held out much hope for a lot of snow. If the flakes were smaller, there was always hope. Snow storms were judged on school or no school and whether there was enough for a snowman and a snowball fight.

When I woke up, I’d run to the window to see how much snow had fallen. If there was enough for a no school day, the fire horn would blow early in the morning. If there wasn’t enough, it meant wearing boots which took forever to get on and off at school. Sometimes my shoe would be caught by the boot, and I’d try to shake it loose. I always thought it was funny to walk with the boot hanging and my foot still in the shoe. I felt a bit like a duck must feel with its webbed feet. The key, we all learned when we were a little older, was to take out your foot then pull out your shoes and then do the reverse in the afternoon. It was a bit harder getting our feet into the shoes already in the boots, but it was far easier than trying to shove the foot filled shoe into the rubber boot which never seemed to dry during the school day.

I remember the days which had snow on the ground were the brightest of all winter days. When the snow was high and there were no footprints yet, everything was beautiful, and the snowflakes shined and glimmered like diamonds in the sun. It always warmer on those days.