The Winter That Wasn’t

Apr 2, 2012

Rosie on the trail

We New Englanders have been left in the perplexing position of having not much to complain about this winter…weather-wise. We will always complain about something. But this winter may go down, quietly, as the winter that wasn’t. A bizarre autumn blizzard sucker-punched the inland states, leaving us all hyper-prepped for the worst winter ever and then…nothing. The Cape got one sloppy mediocre blizzard that was undetectable two days later after 50 degree weather erased every trace.

I was thinking of this as I walked a familiar trail in the woods this morning. The soft covering of pine needles have turned golden-red through the mild season, making the trail easy to navigate and comfortable to hike. A little over a year ago, the same trail was coated in ice and the woods off to the side had a base of snow, not deep, but there for most of the winter. The trail was treacherous and I fell several times even though I tried to keep to the side on the snow. But the woods are thick with brambles (I think that’s what they are) so I’d delicately negotiate the trail, only to slip and slide helplessly on the ice. Once the pain subsided I would laugh out there in the silent woods. Rosie, my dog, would backtrack and stand next to me, looking embarrassed. I think she was hoping no other dogs would see her owner in such a ridiculous state.

Now that March has come to a close we are even more perplexed. We thought surely the sleeping lion would awaken and claw at us with frost and gale. But instead, the flowers are blooming… a month early.  This makes me think about perspective. I spent most of my grown life as a certified cynic, a Murphy’s Law advocate. But something happened when I met Jesus Christ, something subtle at first. I heard about this man Jesus who touched the Untouchables, made the blind to see. He stilled a violent sea and caused a mob of angry men to put down their stones and leave, with just His words. This touched something dormant deep within my heart, sort of like those brave little daffodils shivering out there now in the cold wind. It was hope. Now, over the years, God has transformed me into a shameless optomist.

Sometimes, depending on where you’re standing, hope can seem like a curse, or like a simple-minded mule that knows nothing else other than to move forward. I’ve been there, not wanting to budge, feeling like hope was for others and wishing it would just move along taking all those fools with it.

But now I think more like this: Hope takes courage. I will never argue that the earth is not filled with unthinkable evil , injustice and sorrow. But I also know there is a Savior, a Redeemer, a Risen Lord. “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 by the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 5:5). This is glorious! If we don’t praise Him then the rocks will cry out. I can hear them tuning up…

The wariness over the weather has subsided and the verdict is out, the winter was “not bad” despite a still remote chance for an April blizzard, which HAS happened twice in the last 30 years so….As they say in this neck of the woods, “If you don’t like the weather just wait five minutes!”It’s tough on us Yankees, we depend upon the weather to give us something to complain, I mean talk about. I tell my two sons that they’re soft now that they live in the Deep South.

But recently, after a thoughtful pause following a reluctant assent to an easy winter, someone suggested, almost cheerfully, that we will be paying for it in the future. “Just wait and see what the summer’s like!” he said with that all-knowing nod, like we are all lazy morons for just standing around and looking at the flowers. Better get ready. After all, this is New England.