Thursday, January 30, 2014

Brief musings on a long journey

Travel can be a microcosm of life, bringing into sharper focus the absoluteness of lost opportunities, the brevity of the time between greeting and farewell, the swiftness of change both in ourselves and our situations – and the reality that today is all we have for sure. I like it: I like the things that remind me that life is for real, decisions are momentous, and we play for keeps.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

AAS press release

Pictures with new camera

The blizzard beat the guarantee, but the new camera did finally arrive.  Thanks to everyone who gave me money to buy it!  Here are a couple of pictures we took last Sunday.  For security reasons I won't post any of the adorable pictures we took of the children on this publically accessible website -- however, the children did help me choose these and optimize the display parameters.

Reeds at a frozen pond, Cathedral Pines County Park

Frozen pond near sunset, Cathedral Pines County Park

Friday, January 3, 2014

Walking home on the night of Jan 2

I start at 11:30pm.  There wasn’t much choice: I had to work late, and there’s no way our car could handle this blizzard: I couldn’t ask Jane to pick me up.  I’m well prepared: a hat and a long scarf tightly wrapped across my face, and a spare, hooded coat in case my usual denim and fleece jacket isn’t enough.

The storm is wild, and I delight in it: the dry, powdery snow whipping off the ground in swift flurries, blowing behind my glasses and stinging my face.  Is frostbite a possibility, I wonder? My shoelace breaks and unexpected hazards occur to me: what if my hands are too cold to fix it?  What if when I get home, my hands are too cold to unlock the door?
There’s about 5 inches of snow on the ground.  I find it much easier to run than to walk, because my running stride gets my feet higher, clear of the snow.  None in my shoes so far.  I cross the major road and start climbing a long hill.  I knew this would be hard, but I’m feeling frightened now by the exhausting snowdrifts and the strangeness of it all.

Stop.  I’m actually hot now from running, and being hot tends to make me anxious.  My earlier concern about frostbite is laughable now. I suddenly realize that stress level about deadlines at work is feeding an unrealistic reaction to my current situation.  Everything is going fine.  I am easily strong enough to do this.  I take off my denim fleece, button it down so no snow will get inside, and tie it by the sleeves to my backpack.  Now I am only wearing two layers.  The wind cuts icily though my sweater, but I welcome it.  Now I can run without fear of overheating.
I pass the fire station.  Its illuminated sign reads 12:16 AM, 16 degrees F.  I have seen snow drifts before, but not snow dunes: I have never seen snow that so perfectly imitates sand.  Fascinating to see this on Earth.  On the icy satellites of the outer planets, ice always acts like rock.

I pass our church: 3 miles down now, two to go.  In places the roads are well-plowed, and I run on them rather than the sidewalk, delighting in the blessed feeling of my feet not sinking in snow, but mindful of the possibility of being hit from behind by a snowplow I was too muffled to hear coming.  I look over my shoulder often.  Only one of my boots has snow inside it.  I would prefer zero.
I’m relaxed and calm now.  I thank God for this.  Everything is going to be fine.

I’m almost home, approaching Port Jefferson Harbor.  There will be no protection there from the wind.  I put my denim fleece back on, and re-wrap the scarf across my mouth.  The outside is liberally encrusted with ice from my breath.  I’m not careful enough in the cold and wind to tell if I’m getting the scarf backwards or twisted, but with every wrap I find the icy part goes outward, as it should: a small blessing but a very real one.

The wind off the harbor is every bit as cruel as I thought, but I delight in its power.  Then I see the water: the most amazing vision of the night.  No, it isn’t frozen, it’s… high.  I’ve never seen a normal tide this high.  The wind must have raised the tide in Long Island Sound.  It looks like if it were two feet higher it would be flooding the lowest part of the street.  That suggests a somewhat stronger wind could have made my walk home... very interesting indeed.  I walk along the water front, checking my initial impression that the water is ridiculously high.  Yep.
Edges of the boardwalk and wooden plank boarders of flowerbeds near the waterfront are blown clear of snow.  If I ever own any sizeable piece of land in an area where it snows like this, I will build walkways made of wooden planks two feet above the ground and only eight inches wide.  The blowing snow won’t stick to them and on a night like this they will be absolutely delightful to walk on, and worth their weight in gold if I need to do anything outside.

I wish I had the new digital camera I ordered with my Christmas money, but it will only be delivered tomorrow.  That is, it’s guaranteed to be delivered tomorrow… we’ll see who wins, the guarantee or the blizzard.  I could have taken fantastic pictures with it tonight.  On the other hand, I would have spent a lot of time taking those pictures... and getting very cold.  In fact, it’s possible that a good digital camera is the only thing that would have made my walk home tonight truly dangerous.
My little house is covered with pure white snow and still lit up for Christmas.  It looks like Heaven.  My hands are not too cold to turn the key.  As I step inside, the clock is just striking one.  I must have run faster than I thought.  Thank you, my Lord -- I’m home.