Monday, January 6, 2014

baby, it's cold outside!

the seven mcnatts doing our laundry in minnesota today!
here in minnesota, we woke this morning to -22 degrees. that's MINUS 22 degrees. i won't be able to describe for you what that feels like because i have no plans to open the door today. we are staying in.

incredibly, school is closed. {school never closes in minnesota ... it's almost unheard of}. but with wind chills reaching -50, the governor has declared school cancelled -- good move, mr. governor!

i know we are not alone in this severe weather. all across the country cities and citizens are reeling from the reality of their wintry forecasts. in these parts, we, at least, tend to be pretty well-prepared. there's probably even a tiny bit of pride attached. but the truth is, we have no choice. bad weather just comes with the territory here in the frozen tundra. you learn to expect it. you learn to deal with it. you learn to work around it.

recently, i heard a minnesota friend say, "there is no bad weather, only bad clothing choices."

it seems upon moving to minnesota last year, we arrived just in time for the longest winter of the century (last winter) and perhaps, today, for the coldest day in over a century. i don't know if that's true or not, but regardless, our timing has truly been impeccable.

and since our move, i have wondered, again and again, how the ingalls family ever survived in their log cabin and creekside dwelling in the winter of the late 1800s. as a child, i read through the little house books several times. i knew the stories inside and out. i devoured them. i acted them out with my sisters and neighbors. i, on more than one occasion, dreamed of being laura or mary or ma. i never missed a sunday evening episode on our 19 inch zenith televsion set. i can hum the theme song and see the girls running down that prairie hill like i was running right there with them. but since moving to minnesota, i just cannot wrap my brain around a family surviving minnesota in weather like this.

we have it easy. we have our heated floors and our heated garages and our heated seats. heck, i even have a heated steering wheel! we have our insulated, thermalized, high-tech-clothing. we have our smart wool socks and our fur-lined and water-proofed boots. we have the ability to press buttons and get heat and coffee and fire ...and even groceries delivered. we have four wheel drive and snow tires and 24 hour plow service ...

and still ... it can be hard.

when i agreed to come north, i thought about the ingalls family. the romantic in me was enchanted with the idea of a pioneer spirit. maybe a pioneer in the 21st century is a rather far-fetched idea, but still ... i was game for some adventure. i mean i didn't really have visions of sending my children off for a nine mile walk to the school house in nothing more than a pinafore, a thin flannel coat and some flimsy wet boots. and i was pretty sure i wasn't going to have to tie a rope from the back door of the house to the barn in a blizzard -- like laura's family did. we weren't going to have a barn or farm animals, for that matter. (well, maybe the farm animal thing is somewhat debatable considering the size of our dogs).  but still, i knew it would all be brand new for my southern raised kids. i knew it would be different.

and it has been. quite different. and sometimes hard. but, sort of in a good way, too. i know that's tricky to explain, but i've enjoyed watching my children learn to prepare; learn to figure things out. boots and hats and gloves aren't negotiable up here. thankfully, cold weather clothing has made great strides in the fashion department this century, but we still dress for warmth and practicality. weather must be watched. care must be taken. and those are good things for all of us to learn. whether it's my son heading out to ice fish with his buddies or my daughter driving to a movie with a friend ... they have to be prepared. heck, when the ten year old walks down to the mailbox, he's got to be prepared too!

now, i'm really not trying to compare us to the ingalls family of the 1880s ... but i do think, even now, with all of our gear and all of our good cold weather ideas, we can learn a lesson or two. maybe i'm being a tad too romantic or idealistic ... but there's a part of me which, even on this cold day, warms and wants to embrace the adventure of learning, preparing and pioneering!  (albeit, inside our climate controlled, double-pane-windowed, incredibly insulated home with the heated garage)!

and where some of us might like a little bit of adventure every now and then, probably most of us don't like when things are hard or a hassle. (like my daughter's car failing to start this morning when she was ready to leave a sleepover at her friend's house). it was inconvenient for me to drive over to get her ... (plus, remember, i had no plans to leave the house) ... but it is what it is, right? and that's the other thing living in minnesota has taught us -- you just have to roll with things sometimes. you have to shovel yourself a path ... you have to take time to add a few layers ... and sometimes, you have to go jump start your daughter's car (or call your husband) ... but really it's about our perspective and attitude. i could easily grumble and complain about some of these things -- or i can choose to look for a lesson or a silver lining.

none of us sail through life. and you know why that is? -- because it wasn't designed for us to sail through. (gasp). i know. surprising, right? somehow, there's something in us which innately believes that life should be easy and smooth and always delightful. but, you and i both know deep down, that's not the case. it might help us to be reminded of that. c.s. lewis says it better:
“If you think of this world as a place simply intended for our happiness, you find it quite intolerable: think of it as a place for training and correction and it's not so bad.” C.S. Lewis
pretty brilliant, right? it really is about how we {choose} to see things and how we {choose} to think about them. lewis isn't suggesting we walk around expecting the sky to fall, but he is saying, that when it does, there's something to be learned, maybe even something to be gained.

unfortunately, we live in a culture that is trying its best to convince us that our purpose in life is to be happy. and as he writes, we'll find it "quite intolerable" if that is what we want to believe.

so this cold weather thing, yeah, it's harsh. and, yes, it can even be hard. but listen to the words of charles ingalls and the gift he gives his daughter when he's willing to search for something good even in the midst of bitter winter:

“It can't beat us!" Pa said.
"Can't it, Pa?" Laura asked stupidly.
"No," said Pa. "It's got to quit sometime and we don't. It can't lick us. We won't give up."
Then Laura felt a warmth inside her. It was very small but it was strong. It was steady, like a tiny light in the dark, and it burned very low but no winds could make it flicker because it would not give up.” 

 Laura Ingalls Wilder, The Long Winter

"more than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us." ~ romans 5:3-5

and remember, 
if you are considering a visit ...

head covering isn't negotiable!

for those of you following tyler's knitting career:
this is one of his own creations he sported this week while ice fishing.

since writing this post earlier today, the governor called again ... school is cancelled for tuesday. i have a feeling this is an all time first in minnesota!

1 comment:

Melanie said...

Really great post today. Love it. Life is an adventure and not always easy but worth it. I do often wonder why the settlers of this land bothered to stay after surviving even one winter here but I guess in the end we are a stubborn bunch determined not to let a little thing like weather beat us.