Thursday, February 4, 2010

NC: Thankful for 32 degrees and under, when the mud freezes

Poor Brian.

Poor, poor Brian.

Brian grew up in a picturesque harbor town, where each summer the streets were lined with miles of petunias and people came from all over the state to enjoy the sunny days and cool evenings by Lake Michigan. Breezes blew off the water throughout these warm months and no one bothered to install air conditioning in their homes.

In September, the orange harvest moon would be sharp and clear through chilly nights. The family would fill up the garage with hardwood to burn, and apple orchards within just a few miles would sell piles of crisp, fresh apples untouched by a shipping truck.

By November, winter had begun.

Each week, if not more often, a fresh snow would cover up what was looking worn and dirty. Lakes and streams froze hard and Brian and his grandpa would smash through the ice with thick iron bars to catch the fish beneath it.

Sledding and snowshoeing and cross-country skiing and four-wheel drives and shoveling and hot soup and warm fires and icicles and nothing but white and gray – that was winter, right up until winter went away.

And now Brian lives here, in Raleigh. Where summer, for Brian, is a buzzing, muggy daze of ticks and waist-high weeds and faces damp from walking through the parking lot into church. And September, honestly, is pretty much the same thing. And where, if we're lucky, winter starts a little bit before Christmas.

Yeah. Like the calendar says it's supposed to.

Right now, mid-winter, we have a fire going, which I suppose is a nice reminder of home. But here, winter means a heck of a lot of brown. It is lots of sunshine and rain and only a slight reprieve from bugs. It means thanking God that we can escape to a winter wonderland for Christmas instead of staying here to suffer the drabness of the season. It is slogging through lots of mud in forty-degree temperatures and a dog who still goes swimming in the lake when we jog in the mornings and a grill that never really retires.

Except last month.

Last month, after a couple weeks of unusually low temperatures, we walked down to the lake to see ice. Not a complete sheet of ice, mind you, but enough to stretch out into the middle of the lake and to create a rather strong layer right at the edge of the water.

And Brian picked up a stick and tried to poke holes in it. And he threw rocks at it. And he stomped it with his foot and giggled. Yes, giggled.

And carefully, in spite of my anxious warnings, he stepped out onto the frozen water.

“I never thought I’d say this,” he said with a big, boyish smile,

“but I’m King of the World!!!

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