Against the wind

blogIMG_0484When I awakened that morning, darkness still enveloped us. Papa had already jaunted off to his part-time job that he’s enjoying in his semi-retirement. Little One had spent the night with us as her nurse Mommy was working an early shift at her hospital.

It is January and it is winter. So it was no surprise when I opened our bedroom blinds after the sun arose to find snow lightly covering the ground.

Cold? Yes, but not as frigid in temperature as it can be here during the winter season. Windy? Terribly so. And the wind chill factor made it so much colder than the outside thermometer revealed.

As Little One and I ate our breakfast, I could actually hear the wind howling around our house. I’ve always joked (well, kind of) that we live in a wind tunnel here. Our home is situated in a bit of a valley and the wind comes tearing up the alley-way we live in.

Just ask me how many times shingles have blown off our roof (we’ve since replaced it and so far, so good.). Twenty years ago this month when we moved into our brand new, just built home, shingles went flying hither and yon that season as Ol’ Man Winter blew mightily through our area.

To say it’s windy here, especially in winter, is like saying the Pope is Catholic. It’s a given.

But back to my story. After breakfast and an episode of Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood, I helped Little One get dressed and fixed her hair for preschool. We bundled up against the blustery weather, climbed in our fairly warm car because we have an attached garage, and drove the 15 minutes or so to her class. 

We live in rural area and there are many farms, some dairy, situated around us and on our drive to Little One’s nursery school. Fortunately, the roads were clear of snow, but I suspect most of the feathery stuff was blown off by the wind.

I happened to glance at a nearby field as I was driving and saw them – those black and white dairy cows. Usually, they are meandering around, chomping on some grass or just standing around or they are in the barn getting milked.

But not that day. They were actually huddled by the side of the barn, leaning against it. I believe it was their effort to get out of the fierce wind, to feel a bit of warmth, to brace themselves, be protected.

Prior to seeing those cows, I had noticed a horse who had sidled up to a huge, round bale of hay in his field. He seemed to have his head burrowed in the hay and didn’t appear to be eating, just resting there, no doubt to stay warm in the gusty air.

When Little One and I exited our vehicle and walked through the parking lot to the preschool building, we just about got blown away by the fierce wind, the kind that just seems to seep right through to your bones.

On my drive home, I noticed the animals again sheltering themselves from the cold air and suddenly, my cell phone blared that emergency warning it does when inclement weather is approaching.

Sure enough, I received a winter warning about a snow squall heading my way with white-out conditions and wind gusts.

How grateful I was to get back to my nice, warm (and safely roofed) house once more. How thankful I was that my granddaughter was also in a cozy, safe environment at her school protected by the cold and wind.

And then it hit me. How privileged we are to have our home with heat, electricity, and clean, hot water, a stove to sit a teakettle on to make a warming cup of tea, a vehicle with a heater (and even heated seats) to get us from one warm place to another, winter clothes adequate enough to protect us from the chilling snow and wind.

How blessed we truly are! And chances are, if you’re reading this, you are blessed with adequate housing and your basic needs are met even if you don’t live in a climate like I do with four distinct seasons.

I don’t have to search for a place to harbor myself out of the cold and wind. I don’t have to wonder where my next hot meal is coming from. I don’t have to shiver without adequate winter clothing.

Yet are we grateful for these things we just take for granted? And do we remember those who are so very less fortunate than we are? The homeless, the indigent, the impoverished who don’t have enough food to eat let alone enough resources for paying the heating bill.

As I sat in my heated home, warmed by a hot cup of tea, and gazing out at that snow squall that surely did appear while writing this post (see above photo), I resolved to make a better difference in the lives of others this new year. Not just remembering that other human beings are trying to stay warm and protected just like those animals I saw that blustery morning, but to do something about it.

The prevailing winds of society in our world push us into being self-focused, self-indulgent, self-centered. If you don’t believe me, take a look at social media. But I want to push back, against the wind.

In closets and drawers in this empty nest, winter coats, gloves, hats, socks, and warm sweaters that no one wears any longer linger. They are still in very good condition, so I will gather them up and donate them to a worthy cause that will ensure those in need receive them.

At the grocery store, I will purchase extra staples and canned goods and donate them to food pantries so they can be distributed to those who need food.

I can donate a little extra money, which will go into an energy fund to help people without heat or light, each month to my monthly natural gas payment.

I will continue to give to organizations we support that provide necessary basics to those less fortunate than I am.

There is something each one of us who is blessed with adequate housing, jobs, and material goods can do to bless others. And it’s not just a privilege to do so but a responsibility. And going against the wind to do so gives us purpose.

“No one is useless in this world who lightens the burdens of another.” ~ Charles Dickens