Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Why here? Why not?

This is our first week of seriously inside weather. A historic barometric low has resulted from, as best as I can grasp it, a collision of hot and cold air.

We’re experiencing a mid-continent atmospheric eruption. A severe contrast in air temperatures created a vacuum which causes winds to blow very strong. The winds, rushing to fill the void, keep the atmosphere in equilibrium even as they shake the house with powerful gusts.

Trees thrashed and bent in yesterday’s howling winds. This morning the grill on the outside deck looked funny. It took a second to figure why. It was missing its canvas cover. It had blown off in the storm.

Fortunately it lay nearby. As we retrieved it we noticed the number of small branches on the ground.

Although lights flickered last night we kept our power. Some folks didn’t and had to wait for electricity to come back on. Additionally, we were spared the inches of snow that fell in our neighbor state North Dakota.

Pleasant fall weather, which outdid itself this October, changed outright. As rain drips through empty tree boughs, and the chilly huddle at bus stops are scenes repeated across town, the inevitable grumbles about the colder weather rise to the surface.

“I like it here but sure am beginning to dislike winter. I don’t know why I stick around,” is a common complaint heard now. Sometimes the disparaging comments are yours – thought if not said aloud.

The answer for why we stay put is, to a degree, addressed by the first part of the line. "I like it here" is a very telling statement.

“I like it here” speaks my sentiments. But I'd be gone this fast if we could snap up a beachfront unit during the six chilliest months. (What? My bags aren't packed yet?!)

Maybe real love – for a person, place or commitment undertaken – asks a loyalty with all duty taxes paid. Maybe this is why I’m still here, still around. “Why here?” I ask every year. And the next, and the next after that.

As with this weekend, sitting cozily around the noon dinner table with assorted family members, I know that family is in the mix for me in making Minnesota home.

Family keeps a lot of us rooted. We come together and are together easily and quickly. Events big and small mean more celebrated together. Can’t duplicate that. Never will.

Chosen camaraderie can focus around family but doesn’t have to. Friends, interests, organizations, work and community involvement can provide similar pull.

No matter how much another locale might offer (hello Aruba, Baja and California as I work down the places-admired roster), an often quoted saying comes to mind.

Count your blessings goes the saying. Today is a good time, with Thanksgiving coming up, to remember the truth in it.

We tally our blessings through the surrounding proofs of the good in our lives. We discover and uncover what sustains us and gives savor.

As well as where we live, the present moment is crucial to our sense of well being, purpose and contentment. Life measured by its moments can be basically satisfying wherever we are. A contented life might be considered the end-all to all dreams.

Nourishing our dreams is essential to the quest for fulfillment. Like the winds of a potent weather system we may need to fill the vacuum when parts of our creative selves collide in the ever-evolving efforts towards personal authenticity.

It remains that some dreams stay alive without wheels under them or wings to make them soar. Dreaming escape to the warmer side of yesterday’s heartland version of a hurricane, I no doubt fit in this category.

The reason so many dreams aren’t stretched and plumped into proper shape may never be fully understood. Maybe the answer is simpler than we think.

For instance, let’s look at the question of why any of us choose to live where winter conditions can complicate what’s called the quality of living.

“Why here?” leads, perhaps indirectly but clearly, to an answer we can live with if we muse over it for awhile. Maybe that’s how it is for many dreams not taken down the winding road to completion.

Those of us who'd like to put mileage between ourselves and winter can shake our fists in a futile gesture against the first snowflakes (which actually have arrived already, in the form of a light coating of snow on the deck when Al went in search of the grill cover).

One can shake a fist all you want without getting anywhere. A better response is one that succinctly reflects our Midwest philosophy.

"Why here? Why not?" we shrug, as I like to think the French do when something has its mystery.

Then we slip our hands into the warmest gloves we can find. “I like it here,” we grin. And that requires no shrug at all.

Ro Giencke - 2010

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