“Of all the seasons, we love winter the most.” “What?” I asked with a squeal at the end. This bit of wisdom was handed to me by our middle son who had just become smarter than the rest of us being in high school now and all. We were in mid-run to the car on a particularly blustery afternoon. “Okay, why?” That was my second question as I gained the driver’s side door. “Because we've conquered it,” he answered with a touch of glee in his voice.
I didn't know what to say next because my mind was a whirl. I thought of houses heated with that beast in the basement called a furnace. Hot air being pushed through ducts into every room spreading warmth through the house as winter ravages on outside. We dash from a warm house to a warm car to a warm building or grocery store and hardly give it a thought. I had to conclude that son was right so I grinned and told him so.
But, of course, I couldn't let it go at that. No, there were other paths to stray onto, like all the people who don’t live where winter rages. Places like Florida, Arizona, and California. The residents of these balmy states are joined every year by the “snowbirds” who flee the chilly north when Old Man Winter comes whistling through the calendar. Their ability to escape with trailer in tow, or plane ticket in hand is another way of conquering the season, I guess. Right after Christmas upscale stores put their cruise wear on sale. When the going gets tough the birds whisk off to warmer climes. That’s the modern age for you. Same goes for summer. Too hot? Head for the ocean, Maine, a mountain top retreat, or crank up the old AC. Spring and fall starts the packing and the planning for the “escapees” going in one direction or the other. Those of us who stay put are left sighing with envy or shaking our heads at these fellow humans. We look with longing eye at those who are able to afford seasonal homes. Sometimes we scoff at those who appear too weak to endure in spite of all the conquering of the elements we've done.
Off on another path, I considered many other situations, natural or otherwise, that we've overcome. When was the last time you heard of a child getting chicken pox, measles, mumps or any of the other childhood diseases that plagued our ancestors? Gone – at least in this country. Stretching that thought a little further, think of the injured soldier who comes back from war these days. You won’t see him or her with a pinned up sleeve; not for long anyway. Take a look at old photos of the Civil War or the YouTube video of the 50th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg held in 1913 and you’ll appreciate what’s done now for our limbless warriors. Countless hours of research, design, and testing go into producing the devices that help to alleviate some of the devastating affects of war. Lots of work to do there yet, but look how far we’ve come.
Back on track and contemplating winter. When it’s time in the autumn to close up the windows, put away the patio furniture, and pay for another tank of oil there’s a sense of sadness. Goodbye to the lazy, hazy days and hello to cozy fires in the living room fireplace, fat pumpkins and turkeys, the holidays, chunky warm sweaters and . . . hey! That all sounds pretty good, wouldn’t you say? It’s a kind of hibernation thing. We don’t go out as much but rather hunker down, enjoy the football and basketball seasons from the comfort of our homes. This is especially true in the dead of winter after all the holiday craziness is over. And just as we’re getting to feel a little house bound something green pops up out of the ground and waves at us. The race for spring begins. That’s the trouble with some people. One little remark about how we love a season sparks a brain hurricane of wandering thoughts and curious conclusions. I’m thinking I should reach back a few years and thank number two son who knew more than anybody and helped me cope with the walk we’ll soon take into winter.
Image: Free Digital Photos