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Kathy Bradley - Life is good and winter won't last forever
Kathy Bradley
Kathy Bradley

    Sometime around Thanksgiving I heard a radio broadcaster announce that the meteorologists for the state were predicting a colder and wetter winter than usual. I say give those boys and girls a gold star. Winter won’t be officially over for another six weeks or so, but their prophesies have been fulfilled.
       About this time every year I get my fill of the season, but this year the sensation is less wistfulness and more ache. I’m not just tired of the cold and wet; I’m exhausted by it. I’m not just shivering when I walk outside; I’m scowling. I find myself growling at other cars, which are always going either too fast or too slow, and rolling my eyes, figuratively if not literally, at the minor dramas of everyday life (the woman in the express lane who can’t find her debit card in a purse the size of a small suitcase, the puncture wound in the Styrofoam® cup that leaves a puddle of Diet Coke in my cup holder, the annoying phone call from the telemarketer) that usually make me laugh at our commonality and fragility.
       I think I reached my limit the other day I was walking across the yard at Mama and Daddy’s and felt my feet sink into the saturated soil, heard a discernible squish as I lifted one shoe, then the other to slowly make my way to the front door. It was as though there was something under the ground that might suck me under at any moment. It reminded me of the scene from "The Return of the King" where Frodo, Samwise and Gollum are making their way across that interminable swamp.
       There is a reason the earth needs winter. To rest, to slow down, to reenergize for the growth seasons ahead. But there is also a reason why winter doesn’t last forever. With too much water, roots will eventually mold. With too much cold, branches will eventually break. And, quite frankly, my roots are getting slimy and my branches are getting brittle.
       So what’s a girl to do?
       She could indulge in a little denial. Turn on every lamp in the house and burn every candle and turn up the heat. But that lasts only until morning when the necessity of making a living forces her outside.
       She could whine. But, as I used to tell my little girl softball players, whining is neither attractive nor productive. And it would garner absolutely no sympathy from the friends who live in Maryland and Virginia, Illinois and Indiana, the ones who are laughing and asking, "Cold? Wet? You think you know cold and wet?"
       Or she could just put on her heaviest coat, a pair of gloves and a little Chap Stick and ride it out.
       Her choice. That is, my choice.
       Choice is a funny thing. We demand it, then are too lazy to exercise it. We use it poorly, then deny we used it at all. We would rather, it seems, be marionettes with thin little wires connected to each of our joints, including the crooks and curves of our brains, responsive only to the deliberate but awkward jerking of unseen hands with only our strangely autonomous mouths refusing to yield.
       A couple of summers ago I was at the beach and bought a painted sign made from a piece of reclaimed tin. It read, "Life Is Good." A piece of rusty wire was twisted into two holes at the top and, when I got home, I hung it on the one of the deck railings.
       I walked outside last Saturday morning. The rain had stopped temporarily the night before and a fierce wind had come in on its heels. Trash cans were turned over and, up at the big curve, a tree had fallen across the road. And the rusty wire on the "Life Is Good" sign had broken, leaving it dangling, banging on the deck railings, twisting in the wind.
       I took it down and laid it to the side. Eventually I’ll find another piece of wire and I’ll hang it up again because, despite the cold and the wet, I choose to believe that life IS good and winter won’t last forever.

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