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Winnie the Pooh had it all wrong.
At least when it comes to rivers in late winter/early spring, that willy nilly silly ol’ bear didn’t know what he was talking about when he said, “Rivers know this: there is no hurry. We shall get there some day.”
In his lovely little world, he never watched river water rushing swiftly downstream, creeping up its banks and swelling over its brim, in a frenzied hurry like there’s no tomorrow.
A flood watch has been issued for my neck of the woods. The overabundance of rainy, sleety, snowy weather combined with the melted snow pack draining its way into the rivers and creeks is to blame. With the ground saturated, streams of rushing water are showing up everywhere, even at the edge of our property behind our house. (Don’t worry, we do not live in a flood plain and we live at the top of the hill not the bottom.)
My travels this week led me into my hometown every day and, you guessed it, a river runs through it. As I drive through snowy, sleety, rainy weather along the street closest to our river, I glance warily at the rapid rate it’s traveling and how it hungrily laps at our waterfront park, climbing steadily up the steps of the amphitheater. Its current is so swift I’ve seen white caps of water. That river makes me a little nervous because you know the old question: What runs but never gets tired? A river.
So driving past our normally tranquil body of water that’s morphed into a wild wave water park, my mind instantly dials up a song, “Ol’ Man River” from the musical Show Boat. And as I’m singing this tune, I suddenly realize who lurks behind this evil plot to change our serene, soothing river into this raging maniac. Ol’ Man Winter, that’s who!
So with apologies to Oscar Hammerstein II, who wrote the lyrics to “Ol’ Man River,” here’s my version of the song placing the onus on the real culprit behind the river rising.
Ol’ man Winter,
Dat ol’ man Winter,
He jus’ keeps blowin’
And keeps on snowin’
He jus’ keeps rollin’
He keeps on rollin’ along.
Ol’ man Winter,
Dat ol’ man Winter
He mus’ know sumpin’
But don’t say nuthin’,
He jus’ keeps dumpin’
He keeps on dumpin’ along.
He don’t bring sunshine,
He don’t bring flowers,
His snow keeps droppin’
Til warmth’s forgotten,
But ol’ man Winter,
He jus’ keeps rollin’ along.
You an’ me, we shiver an’ freeze,
Body all achin’ an’ racked wid sneeze,
Tote dat bag o’ salt!
To your shovel make a switch!
Slide a little bit
An’ you land in a ditch!
Ah gits weary
An’ sick of tryin’
Ah’m tired of bleakness,
An’ I’m not lyin’,
But ol’ man Winter,
He jus’ keeps rollin’ along.
And so the story continues. Empty nest mama living a quiet life of peace and solitude with hubby feels sad on occasion because: (choose one)
a. her children have all grown up and moved away
b. sunshine is missing in her neck of the woods
c. the view outside her window is colorless
d. all of the above
If you chose response d, you win a gold star today!! You are an ace pupil. You’ve been reading Mama’s book of Opportunity for quite some time now and you thoroughly comprehend the subject matter. You probably have even read her previous edition copyrighted in 2010.
So on this snowy day – yes, it is snowing again in my snowglobe world here! – this 12th page in Chapter Two, I shall reward you (and me too!) by providing a plethora of colorful photos from the Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens, taken last February on my mini excursion to the ‘islands’ with my husband.
They are a much more welcomed sight than the sideways snow squall I’m watching out my kitchen window right now. Really! The snow is blowing sideways like my snowglobe got knocked over. Even the hawk that just flew out of a tree behind our property is fighting to fly against the barrage of snow and having a hard time of it.
So let’s fly away ourselves to a happy place via photographs! Hope you enjoy the explosion of color in case your world is as barren as mine right now!
The spectacular, gigantic glass art pictured above hung from the dome and greeted us when we entered the conservatory. Read more about this fascinating work created by Washington artist Dale Chihuly here: http://www.chihuly.com/
We left the snowglobe and stepped into verdure so lushly green I really did feel like we had just landed on some tropical island. As we meandered from one section of the conservatory to another, feasting on all the colorful sights, I could not stop photographing everything, probably due to the color deficit I experienced looking outside at my landscape every day at home! I was drawn to the vibrant colors like a butterfly to sweet nectar.
I even enjoyed the southwestern room with cacti of all sorts and shapes. Then we visited the rooms where the Orchid Show unveiled sights of glorious color in flowers so unique and intricate and fragrance so sweet.
After this uplifting few hours of vacation time away from the bleakness and dreariness of winter, our respite ended and we traveled back to our country home….to the sight below.
Perhaps, being the astute reader you are, you will understand why I feel so color-deprived and why I love this quote by Victor Hugo ~ “Winter is on my head, but eternal spring is in my heart.”
Sometimes you just feel like you’re stuck in a snow globe of winter. Same thing, every day. Same scenery, same blanket of white covering all the color in your world.
After all the sameness, I’m ready for something unique and different on the ninth page of Chapter Two in my new book, Opportunity. [That’s February 9, 2011 for those of you who haven’t been following my blog since January 1.]
As far as days go, today proved to be a typical, average kind of day. A work day – not very eventful – and a cold, wintry day as the outdoor thermometer hanging outside my kitchen window displayed a near zero mark – but that too is the usual kind of day for February. So as the old saying goes, I have “nothing new to write home to mother about.”
Life seems a little mundane this week, even as hubby and I deal with a few changes to which we must adjust. But this same old “business as usual” routine forced me to wonder if anything exciting ever happened on this day.
I performed a tad of research and thought I’d share what I learned about some of the informative events that did in fact take place on this date – February 9th – just in case you need a trivial treat for the day!
I’m not certain if my blog proves to be a bright spot in the snow globe where you live today, but just writing it makes mine a little more upbeat and fun. And quirky. Which is just what I needed on this day in February, Chapter Two, Page 9, in my book called Opportunity.
It looks like Ol’ Man Winter threw a sucker punch to most of our nation.
Some areas of the country ducked and dodged previous storm systems that blew through, coming out of it with a few scrapes of the snow shovel or pouring a little salt on the ice wounds. Other areas kept getting smacked with a strong left hook.
But the recent blast of wintry weather caught many unaware; that sucker punch knocked some regions down for the count.
Last night I read my friend Homesteadrambling’s blog and viewed a couple of her pictures of the latest snow storm in her neck of the woods.
My family and I used to live in that section of the country and we experienced eight winters there. But not once in all those years, do I recall scenes like I viewed online.
Hubby and I watched a slide show of storm photos from the Midwest. One major highway that we traveled along often was completely shut down in a whiteout blizzard condition. I read about a young lady forced to spend the night on a stranded bus in Chicago because she couldn’t see more than 100 feet when she attempted to walk home.
Some of my family and friends live in a southwestern state. They too were caught by winter’s sucker punch as evidenced by their pictures on Facebook.
Again my family once lived there also and we remember how a dusting of snow sent those “sooners” into a frenzy. In the land where the wind comes sweeping down the plain, evidently the wind swept several inches of snow and ice into their yards.
All of this reminds me of a woman I once worked with years ago when I was a young reporter/assistant section editor at a daily newspaper. Mrs. Carter was our newsroom librarian.
Long before the internet surfaced, she was our capable and efficient go-to gal for information. She was an older lady, sweet-natured with a well-worn face and hands. I suspect that in her youth, she worked long and hard hours on the farm out in the sun-scorched weather.
Her duties were to catalog….everything! If we needed a picture that our photographers could not easily attain, we asked Mrs. C. to find us one. And voilà! She dug through her carefully alphabetized files and found the picture you needed.
Need some background info or a copy of a photo one of our photographers took five years ago? See Mrs. C. Need to know who wrote an article about such and such on this date or that? Our steadfast librarian had gigantic volumes of the actual newspaper pages bound and shelved for your perusal, as well as countless volumes on “microfiche.”
Mrs. C. was an information treasure trove hidden in a backroom office away from the hustle and bustle of the newsroom. This gem of a lady also possessed the best attitude no matter what. To this day over 30 years later, one of her oft-spoken phrases has stuck with me. “My, we are having a time!” she would utter.
She didn’t qualify whether it was a good time or a bad time, a glorious time or a devil of a time. A gut-wrenching time or a giddy time, a pleasing time or an irritating time. To Mrs. C., it was always just “a time.”
Today on this third page of Chapter Two in my book, Opportunity, I glance out at the snow knowing friends, family and fellow countrymen are digging themselves out of winter’s throes, attempting to land on their feet again, and I sympathize.
Although we were spared the worst from this storm’s sucker punch here in Mama’s Empty Nest, our family has taken a few unexpected hits on the chin this winter in other areas of life.
But for all of us, I just have one thing to say, “My, we are having a time!”
February 2, 2011
If I were a cartoonist, I’d draw Phil, the famous Punxsutawney Phil, the weather predicting groundhog and he would star in his own animated movie.
More than likely I’d make sure he could sing and dance and of course, he would belt out the tune, “Just me and my shadow” while wearing a black tuxedo with tails and a top hat.
Today is Groundhog Day. Yep, it’s Page 2 in Chapter 2 of my book of Opportunity and I’m going to write about a rodent.
Groundhog Day is a crazy little holiday, stemming from a Pennsylvania German custom, which people celebrate in my home state. The rotund critter called a groundhog (Marmota monax for all you scientific types) is a burrowing animal.
I know this because several of these critters have tunneled their way into our backyard. Of course, they can’t be spotted in winter because they hibernate in their comfy, underground dens during the winter months.
According to German tradition, if the groundhog pops out of his winter home on this day and he sees his shadow, he will dart back into his quarters to hibernate for another six weeks, which means winter isn’t over yet. That’s a pretty safe prediction for ol’ Phil because the official first day of spring is exactly six weeks after February 2. If, however, a cloudy day ensues and his shadow is missing in action, an early spring is supposedly on its way.
A big hoopla of a celebration is held every year in Punxsutawney, PA, a little burg here that was immortalized in the Bill Murray movie, “Groundhog Day.” Supposedly, up to 40,000 people have gathered to commemorate this event there since at least 1886. Back when oldest daughter was still a college student, she and her zany friends decided they would attend this shindig. They stayed up all night there and stood along with all the other thousands of crazy folks outside in frigid weather at the crack of dawn to see if a rodent saw his shadow or not.
I kid you not. Aside from having nearly frost-bitten fingers and toes, I think it was the highlight of oldest daughter’s winter that year. She’s a big one for making a bucket list and working her way through it, so evidently this was on the list just like ringing in the New Year in the middle of New York City’s Times Square (another event she’s lived through to tell the tale). Come to think of it, I think it was the same group of college buddies she experienced that with also! But I digress.
Time to get back to the exciting Groundhog Day festivities on Gobbler’s Knob in Punxsutawney. An “Inner Circle” exists in this little town, a group of local citizens who don top hats and black coats to coax Phil out of his dreamy den every February 2nd. These gentlemen also take care of Phil during the year and plan much of the celebration, which includes everything from an art show to banquets to kids’ events to carriage rides in the park – a plethora of proceedings fit to proclaim Punxsutawney Phil, self-acclaimed “Prognosticator of Prognosticators,” (as it says on his website www.groundhog.org) to be the Prince of Predictions.
Yep, it’s pretty exciting here in Pennsylvania, home of the famous Punxsutawney Phil and six-time Super Bowl Champions (soon to be seven!) Pittsburgh Steelers. And I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else, even if winter does last another six weeks!
See a video about Punxsutawney Phil here: