Wind In My Face

I sit here wondering what I will write about as Lovely and I just returned from a late morning walk and are tuckered out. The wind is out of the south and very strong. Yahoo weather claims it to be between 19-21 mph. Yes, that is strong. I remember the days when I still rode a bicycle to commute and on the way home from work I faced a south wind that often stopped me dead. Even though I have granny gears to climb steep hills they sometimes aren’t enough to ride head first into a stiff wind. God forbid I have to restart when the wind is that strong. Starting into the wind becomes downright impossible, and many times I turned around to start with the wind at my back and then made a U-turn to return to the direction I needed to go. Balancing a bike when riding into that strong wind is a lot like walking a tight rope, progress is slow and wildly unsteady.

The gusts this morning hit hard enough to stop us from moving forward. I told Lovely to walk behind me so I would break the wind for her. Thank goodness it is only three blocks to the Old Plank Road Trail which is flanked by trees and the wind is cut off. We finished our 1.5 mile walk in thirty-five minutes and were glad to enter into the quiet stillness of our home.

Lovely always complains about the wind. This morning the only conversation she braved was to ask me to move to a place where there is no wind. “It doesn’t exist” I told her. Even in places that are warm during the winter months there is always wind. I remember once coming out of a movie house in Peoria, Arizona during early afternoon, and the sky was beige. It kind of looked like fog, but it was sand. Visibility was limited and there was stinging in our eyes. It wasn’t pretty.

As a ten year old kid, my cousin Joe, who was a lot older than me, and who had kids that were the same age as me, telling us a story of one of his cross country driving trips to California. He described traveling in a desert sand storm so violent that the visibility was only a few feet. There were no places to stop to rest, he had to keep moving. When the storm finally finished the paint on his car was gone and the engine needed an overhaul. I couldn’t imagine such a fury. Dad didn’t drive further than Michigan. That afternoon coming out of the theater I recalled Joe’s story and finally believed every word.

Snow or Summer Which Shall It Be?

The Lord gave me a huge gift this week-end, He routed the predicted snow storm away from Frankfort. We did have snow, cold, and wind but the inches of snow and ice did not get here. I”m sure somewhere north of us the situation is different. As a kid I loved snow, I couldn’t get enough of it. Snow  meant building snow men or snow forts, snowballs, and snowball wars. It meant sledding down hills and rolling off at the bottom. It meant getting so covered in the white stuff that our pants would be frozen stiff from the knees down. It also meant getting sick with sore throats, and fevers. If we were lucky we’d have some frozen ponds and then we could add ice skating to the fun.

As an old man, I love to look at snow, but despise having to go out into it. It means being cold, or getting the car stuck, and of course it means shoveling walks and driveways clear. It means parking a car is harder, and walking through piles of it from the car is a chore. I would much rather be in a warm sunny climate where snow is something that makes the mountain look pretty. One of my not favorite pastimes is shoveling the drive clear after the Village plow comes by cleaning the street and deposits the street snow onto my newly cleared driveway.

I love sitting in my nice warm house looking out at the bird feeder watching the birds as they feed in a frenzy. I also love seeing tracks made by the squirrels, raccoons, and deer. It is rare to see the actual animals but they are there because after a week the back yard looks like a children’s playground with all the tracks they leave.

Photography in the snow is another favorite passion for an old guy. Winter scenes are among the most beautiful on planet Earth, they project peacefulness and purity.

I guess there is a balance between what I like about snow, and what I don’t like about snow, and I am neutral to it, and if I get really tired of it, I’ll pile onto an airplane to fly to a southern climate. The problem with moving to a warmer climate is that my ass is too firmly rooted in Illinois with family and friends. I recall when I spent the winter months in Arizona with Peg experiencing a strange emotion that something was not right in the Valley of the Sun, I missed snow. Now that is crazy isn’t it? I found having endless days of sunshine without dark cloudy, rainy days boring. I did enjoy not having to bundle up to take a walk. I also enjoyed the greenery and the colorful flowers, but deep inside me there was this nagging feeling that I was out of place there.

Then the days began to get warm, I mean hot. By the end of April ninety degree days were the norm and we had an occasional hundred degree day. The greenery began to turn brown, and It was time to come home. In my mind I envisioned greenery, and colorful flowers and warm, not hot, sunny days. We loaded up and drove home, only to find it still cold, still freezing at night, and mountains of snow piled in parking lots. It would be another eight weeks before we hit the hot humid days of an Illinois summer.

All I can say at this point is that living in midwestern USA prepares one for every type of weather experienced on the planet.

I Can’t Get It Out of My Head

Every once in a while life hands you something you can’t let go of. About a month ago I began singing a tune I heard in a movie. The refrain is simply Amen, amen, amen. The song is from Lilies Of the Field a movie I saw in 1963. Somehow, that refrain comes back to me, and when it does I cannot get it out of my head. This time it was so strong I decided it time to re-watch the film. Last week Peg and I found it at our library and we watched it together. I loved it as much on this viewing as I did fifty-one years ago. I’ll take that hymn to my grave., so much so that this morning I told Peg I would like the hymn sung at my funeral. Her response was classic, “Are you dying now?”

I won’t go into the story, but it is beautiful. The characters are simple but powerful. The message is one of faith in God, and the power of positive thinking.

I couldn’t help but think of how this story put two religions on showcase, and showed how beautiful both were living together in harmony. Compare that to today’s scenario of Christians and Muslims living at odds with each other so much so they can be likened to good versus evil.

Here is a video of the song in its entirety from the last scene.

My Heart Is Down

Sad to say I’m on my way,

Won’t be back for many a day.

My heart is down, my head is turning around

I had to leave a little house in Wrinkle Town.

 

It’s Baaack!

This morning I awoke and peeked out he window at the 2013 Monet Vision. It looked the best it did all year-long. Bathed in white it looked better than the white theme I tried to make this year. For the past twenty years I have commented on the pussy winters we have had, but this year promises to become the winter I know and hate, . . er I mean love. When you live in Illinois you have to love winter or you are not worthy of living here.

This week we experienced the joy of breathing below zero temps and decided that Arizona looks pretty good. Then it snowed three times counting today. The first was a shoveler. That’s a powdery snow fall that is less than two inches deep and it is not worthy of wasting gas in the snow blower, so shovel I did.  The next day, it snowed again. Another powdery one inch not worthy of a blow job. In fact, because I had a doctor appointment early, it didn’t even get a shovel job. This morning when I opened the garage door there was nine inches of powdery snow in front of me: Hear that all you guys who moved to Arizona, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina and Florida? This was definitely worth a blow job. Except, my blower was not ready. I had it serviced, I had fresh gas, but I removed the blower-chute when I stuffed the machine into the trunk to take it for service. The winters have been so pussy, that I kept gambling on not needing to get it completely functional. It took fifteen minutes to install the chute and three pulls to get it going strong

Lucky for me the Frankfort snowplow had not yet come by to fill the driveway with a block worth of snow moving at forty miles per hour. My trusty Honda, inherited from my son who moved to snow-less Houston, moved right through the powdery stuff. The temp measured 31.4 degrees F at my front porch.

I had about 90% of the driveway completed when I noticed the snow was no longer flying out the chute. Instead, it packed into the chute and didn’t clean very well at all. The temperature was now above 32 degrees and the snow was, as we used to say as kids, “good packing.” That meant it is perfect for making snowballs and snow men.

It took about an hour to finish the drive and the walk in front of my house and the walks in front of the neighbors on each side of me. A few years ago, this would have taken me less than forty minutes and I would have had a great workout. This time, it took much longer and it tired me out completely. That is Nature’s way of telling me that the old bod’ ain’t what it was a few years ago. I guess it is the result of too many glasses of Cabernet and endless hours in front of the computer doing absolutely nothing.

After clearing the front, I tackled the patio to gain access to the bird feeders. There wasn’t a single dove, cardinal, or sparrow in sight. Must be the snow, I thought, until I heard the screeching call of a hawk. He sat in a tree observing the action around the feeders. I reveled at the sound of his call as he obstinately stayed perched and screeching high above me. I was shoveling a path around the post feeder and the hanging feeder at the window when I spotted Grandma Peggy peering out keeping the hawk under surveillance. Now that’s neat, a predator observing his prey while being observed by a constable protecting the prey. The look on Peggy’s face was enough to scare any hawk from the area.

I took some pictures with my phone and declared the 2013 Monet Vision had finally achieved a state of  beauty worthy of talking about. Remember, Churchill said, “never, never, never, never give up.” I’m glad I didn’t because the garden finally looks good.

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2013 Monet Vision in December looking at the waterlessfall

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The Hawk keeps surveilance

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Snow Angel

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2013 Monet Vision in December looking at the bird tower

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Grandma Peggy keeps her eye on the hawk

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Front Drive

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Walkways

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My flag Flies Everyday

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2013 Monet Vision September reference