All over the country temperatures are colder than normal. It has been particularly frigid in Minnesota with schools being closed and people who are blessed to have shelter staying in and hunkering down. Temperatures have plummeted and the wind chills have been staggering.
Mostly, we like to wear this weather like a shield of honor. It seems to be a birthright or at least an adoption right of those of us who call ourselves Minnesotans. I saw this written on the faces of those who have shown up at church the past two Sundays. Proud, red, ruddy faces all show true Minnesotans.
There is something wonderful about this cold weather if we are privileged to see it so. Take, for instance, the way the deep cold changes the sky at sunrise and sunset. Have you noticed? I have no idea why it is so, but I am sure the science-minded among us could give the reasons.
All I know is that the painting of the beginning and ending of day seems more brilliant, the colors more vivid. The sky has been striped with bright red, hot pink and a deep purple that seems nearly impossible. How does it happen? During the day, the sun dogs that encapsulate the sun give to us a beauty that is never seen except with these temperatures.
For those of us blessed to have enough layers on to keep us safe, there is much to notice. Ice crystals float in the air, almost imperceptible — not snow, just there, floating like tiny fairies. The sun, more brilliant and welcomed than usual, glints off the icicles that hang from gutters and wires, amazing lights that rival their Christmas decoration impostors. Even the bare branches of the trees offer a kind of blessing as their darkness creates lacy patterns against the icy, blue sky.
Have you noticed?
The fact that these “noticings” are a privilege is not lost on me. These are observations of someone who has a warm home, a car that works well and is well maintained. They are made by someone who has enough warm clothes to keep skin from freezing and enough food to fuel the body.
I pass plenty of people along the way who are not in the same situation, those for whom observation would not only be a luxury but perhaps dangerous. May they be blessed with warm places of shelter this day and night and may a warm meal offer a respite from the difficulty of life many of us can only imagine.
With more cold air on its way, I have thought of all the beauty birthed from this cold. The brilliant, colorful skies. The light hitting snow and ice, just so. Warm bowls of soup and fleecy blankets. Fires jumping in fireplaces and animals curled up in front of them. Children nestled on sofas with books and games and cups of hot chocolate. And people, strangers, who offer stories to keep us through the worst of the weather.
Even the cold has gifts, to give and receive, if we have the eyes to see.
As one on the journey with you,