6 Unburned Pieces of The Mind
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20051126

Charging Against The Cold

Sitting at my desk this morning, I couldn’t quite tell what kind of day it was going to be. From my window facing east, it looked like the promise of a great day, a blue sky, sunny, and white puffy clouds. From the southwest window, though, the sky split in a confused dark gray that said whatever pleasant weather seen from the other window would be short lived.

I decided to head out for a walk down to the library. At 28 degrees, it didn’t seem that cold, but after I went a couple of blocks, the wind coming off from the ocean made me realize I should’ve worn my rabbit fur hat. The hat I normally wear provides ample protection for the top of my head but does little for my ears.

Most of the sidewalks and yards had a slight covering of snow and ice left from the Alberta Clipper that blew through on Thanksgiving Day. Aside from the periods of snow and rain that fell, the grand finale was the thunderstorm we had just before the rain changed back to snow, the lightening flashes illuminating a swirl of flakes falling from the sky.

After spending a good couple of hours in the library, I stumbled on John Gould’s Stitch in Time, a collection of humorous essays that reflect on his observations of the people who live and work in Friendship, Maine. I’ve read an occasional column of his before in The Christian Science Monitor, but I’ve never taken the time to actually read one of his books.

After I checked out, I headed over to the Belfast Co-Op and bought a cup of coffee, and a semi-dark chocolate bar. The table by the window looked like a good spot and so I sat down and spent the next hour reading a few of Gould’s stories. What impressed me immediately is his ease in engaging the reader to go along with him from beginning to end as he tells his stories of ordinary people whose foibles or peculiarities have caught his attention. “Except the Eggs,” “Garden Surprise,” and “Only if Funning” were just a few that had me chuckling more than once. When it’s cold and blustery, a little tongue-in-cheek sometimes can be the perfect cure to what might otherwise be a long, dreary day.

I put the book away in my coat pocket and looked out the window at the Christmas lights strung out over High Street, abandoned to my thoughts as I sipped and nibbled the last of my coffee and chocolate. A light snow began to fall, and against the backdrop of the First Congregational Church, Belfast emerged Currier & Ives perfect in its wintry repose.

It used to be that I liked the arrival of winter. I would mark the day of the first snow on my calendar, and would hurriedly get dressed to go for a walk. But it’s been sometime since I’ve done that. As picturesque as a winter scene might be, it is, nevertheless, cold, and cold is not friendly. It permeates everything, the layers of your clothes--the marrow of your bones. Once chilled, it seems to take forever to warm back up. The dismal mood I had spiraled into, however, didn’t last very long. As I stood up to throw away my coffee cup, a small boy brushed past me and hopped up on the chair I had been sitting in. “Look, Mommy,” he said with his hands outstretched toward his mother. “It’s snowing!”

Smiling, I charged against the cold, and headed for home.

By S. L. Cunningham