FLESHMAN: Nature’s gentle warning

December 16, 2013 11:22 am

When I awoke, the sun was shining to give me a spurt of energy.  There were boxes waiting to be moved from one spot to another, mostly outside work, so I decided it would be an excellent day for getting the job done.

The warm air, deceivingly so in late November, greeted me and I set about to complete my task with a will.  Because of the lateness of the season and warning signs of a possible early winter, I was a little fearful that the delay would have me trudging through the snow while scolding myself for being a procrastinator. I’m good at that — putting things off until tomorrow in hopes that I’ll feel more like doing it then.

Time passed, but my effort was rewarding, for satisfaction came with a job well done.  I commented out loud that Mother Nature was being good to me.

It was then that I noticed the sun had been erased by a thick sea of clouds and, heaven forbid, snowflakes were gently sifting to earth.

Isn’t it funny how things work out sometimes? The flakes didn’t materialize into anything at the time, but it was as though Mother Nature was also gently nudging me that perhaps next time she might not be so generous should I procrastinate another job.

Oh, to be so warned!

Now, as to the tools that needed stored...well, maybe tomorrow.

When I awoke this morning the sun was shining, but the thermometer outside my kitchen window registered two degrees above zero, not an excellent day for working outside.  Someone had, though, for when I looked out my front window I could see that someone had been in my driveway and cleared away the remnants of an earlier snow. How grateful I felt to know that someone had braved the cold for my own convenience without even asking. Was his name Ken?

On the day before, Christian had come over and rearranged my garage to accommodate my car and to place things where I could get to them if need be.

My car purred in appreciation. He also worked with a will to provide more shelving for my notebooks and other things so they could be put in place rather than living out of boxes.

Then there was Ted who brought newspaper and mailed mail for me so that I wouldn’t have to brave the cold and icy streets. And Rick who did some repair work just when I needed him. And Eric who traversed me to the country so that I could share the holiday meal and enjoy seeing the Christmas lights already lighting up the evening sky.  And Ginny and Dale who saw me to an enjoyable evening concert when driving lights would have kept me at home.

Oh, how I appreciate youth, willingness, and ability all rolled into one.

Youth, which may surprise you, in my estimation lasts clear up into the late 70s, and the older one gets, the longer youth appears to last. That’s because the 80s quite often could use a little more help than they appear to need. I can attest to that.

While I huddle around my little gas stove and soak up the warmth that it provides, others are out seeing to the needs and comforts of others. They see that the electricity keeps running, fix broken water pipes, clear snow, scatter gravel on icy streets, pull vehicles out of snow banks or ditches, run errands, make deliveries, answer emergency calls, see to our safety.

Is there no end to what they do, braving the miseries of cold and inconvenience?

I can remember the days of 20 below zero weather, the huddling around wood-burning stoves, cold bedrooms, stiff hands from milking cows, breaking ice on the water bucket, walking to school with bare legs reddened with the cold or stuffed unwillingly into long brown cotton stockings and galoshes below a wool skirt wherever trousers for girls weren’t allowed in those days.

I can remember playing out in the snow building snowmen, sliding down the hill on a sled, making ice bumps with my boots by sliding up and down on a small hill of snow, pretending to ski down small slopes, ice skating on the pond above the Skeen’s house, trying to ski on the Anthony Lakes pre-bunny hill, making one exhilarating run on a toboggan of rubber tires made by my boys on Edelweiss hill.

I remember shoveling snow from sidewalks to help those who couldn’t. I remember adults bringing big armloads of wood into the house because they could carry so much more than the children.  We were grateful then, too. We all worked together to help each other.

Then I remember warming myself by the fire in the fireplace, popping corn and drinking hot cider or hot chocolate after the festivities of winter play.

We were pleased with the taffy-pulls and going out into the woods to fetch just the right Christmas tree and decorating it after Dad had fixed it to stand up in a pail of water; then regretting it when the dropping needles indicated that we must see it go again at the New Year.  Sometimes it still bore strings of popcorn and cranberries to give the birds their holiday meal.  Suet and seeds were hung out at the edge of the house to draw winter birds to a feeding place.

And, as I dream about how things were in the past and listen to the Christmas music, I recognize the fun and joy of the season for the young, but even more I appreciate those individuals these days who still struggle to make things better for the rest of us in spite of the weather.


Thank you so very much for all you have done for someone else this day, or yesterday, or will do tomorrow because you saw the need. What a special gift you are.