When I left for work this morning, it was bitterly cold but there was no snow where I live. By the time I had driven the Banfield (I-84), there were snow flurries in the area. By the time I got to Hillsboro and approached work when it was still dark, my car was being blown by the winds, and the snow was swirling like the desert sands on and just above the road. It is striking to think that despite a childhood that was spent with very little snow, I still remember those few moments in my childhood when I got to play in the snow, building forts or throwing the occasional snow ball or even making snow angels, or swordfighting with the icicles that would very rarely hang off of the neighbor’s porch roof. By the time in young adulthood I had to drive unfamiliar streets in the vehicles of others trying to get to one place or the other, the darker side of winter weather became more obvious in the difficulties it provided to keeping a car under control.
The chill in the air managed to affect the lives of many of my coworkers a great deal. Some of my coworkers smoke, and when the weather is particularly cold it makes it very difficult for them to go outside and they cannot smoke indoors. Even though I am not a smoker, I definitely feel compassion for those who are so under the grips of compulsions and addictions that they must endure such difficulties simply to keep in an equilibrium. Although smoking is definitely not an addiction of mine, I certainly know that compulsion can make one’s life a great deal more complicated, and I know enough about my own compulsions to be compassionate on others who suffer likewise in their own way, blown in the wind like a snowflake on its indirect way to the earth.
Often, what makes the weather feel bitterly cold is not merely the presence of snow, which generally brings a smile to my face, but the humidity as well as well as the wind. It is hard to feel warm in a cold winter. As Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 reads: “Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their labor. For if they fall, one will lift up his companion. But woe to him who is alone when he falls, for he has no one to help him up. Again, if two lie down together, they will keep warm; but how can one be warm alone? Though one may be overpowered by another, two can withstand him, and a threefold cord is not quickly broken.” It is striking that humidity makes the heat worse and also makes the cold worse, in both cases driving people indoors or in climate-controlled vehicles, seeking some shelter from the weather, and some pleasant company if it can be found.
Of course, my drive to and from work tonight was pleasant and enjoyable. The same cannot be said for everyone I worked with. One of my coworkers is a mother living across the river to the north, and her drive was harrowing as a result of the much greater snow there than we had. By the time I returned home there was some light snow that had most collected in the gutters and on the streets, but not enough to trouble my own way, just enough to hint at the beauty of winter while allowing me the ability to deal with the more dangerous winds. Who knows what tomorrow will bring, though, as I try to stay warm and snuggled with my toasty laptop and snuggly blankets.