This little cold snap came sailing in like a old train on iron tracks, slamming into the last warm edges of a pleasant autumn. One day, we were strolling about in shirtsleeves and smiles, soaking up the warmth like fat cows on a southern slope. The next, we were talking about single digit wind chills and wondering whether or not we’d have to chop through the ice on the water trough. It wasn’t fun bracing that first frozen morning; I’ve never been too convincing in my own imitation of a homesick Esquimeau.
The upside is that two days later we’re looking for a high in the mid-fifties and are told we’ll brush the low edge of seventy on Saturday. The cold spells don’t seem so bad when they make the thin slice between longer sides of pleasant temperatures. It’s not the cold spells that really get us; it’s the winters.
For some short season of disappointment, some brief testing, we usually figure we can just grit our teeth for a spell, clench the core muscles and hang on for a bit. It’s not like riding a bull, quite, but we figure if we make it through the next eight seconds or so, things will turn better. For those long months of gray light and bone-aching nights, it takes something else. It takes endurance, it takes hope, it takes a determined faith.
Might be we’d rather do as Guy Clark sings and just blow south when the wind blows cold. Some folks do that, but sometimes there’s no escaping the winds of life. And that endurance and hope and faith that we need for those long testing winters, well, that’s an interesting thing.
Faith is a choice, hope is an attitude and endurance, well, endurance comes from going through those cold spells and those other winters. It comes from reminding ourselves that we’ve seen such things before and we’ve made it through every one of them. Might have a nick or two here and there and might even show a little sign of frostbite on some of the fringes, but, by God’s good grace and a pioneer’s selective stubbornness, well, we’re still here.
So, next time one of those cold spells blasts into your life, remember that even winter doesn’t last forever. One of these days, if we keep on holding on to hope and faith, we’re going to cross our last frozen river. And, my, what wonderful stories we’ll have to share!