Saturday, January 30, 2010

Snow Day!

Remember those snow days when we were kids?

We didn't have the Weather Channel, Accu-Weather, or Doppler 5, 000,000 (yes, I know. I make it sound like these technological advances are reliable). We had a guy in a plaid jacket and seventies-wavy hair standing in front of a monochrome map with cardboard suns, clouds, H's and L's waving his hands as if conjuring.

And, he gazed hopefully into the camera. Hopeful that we'd believe his forecasts, and hopeful that he would be right. Most of the time he failed, becoming a weather seducer who couldn't deliver the goods.

So we'd hear snow and cross our fingers and pray, only to wake up to grey skies and brown lawns. But, every once in a while, the weatherman would call for empty skies, and we'd wake up to steadily falling snow. Snow on the cars, snow on the trees, snow on the lawns, and - most importantly - snow on the hilly roads the school buses had to navigate.

Snow day!

My Dad would growl about the need to shovel, and curse the passing plows who undid his hard work, but Mom understood. There was nothing more magical than an unexpected day with nowhere to go and no means to get there. Snowmen, snow angels, and Devereaux Hill sled runs awaited!

See, when you are used to the unrelenting brown and grey of the southeastern Pennsylvania winter, the white winterland truly is a wonder. So today, after the weather-scientists forecasted no precipitation, or a snow shower, or a dusting maybe, the snow began to fall. Steadily.



It stopped.

No, now it's started again.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

What Do You Do?

Ivanoh Demers/AP

The sun emerged for the first time in days, but I have this cold spot within that it was unable to reach. What do you do when an earthquake or a tsunami or a war over there brings suffering on an incomprehensible scale, and a hundred or a thousand or a hundred thousand faces of immediate human misery stare blankly from a darkened world stage?

What do you do (emphasis on any word)?

Do you make a contribution? Do you say a prayer? Do you watch? Do you go? Do you slide into numbness before the videos of bodies in the streets and reports of children with shattered torsos crack your carefully crafted sense of detachment?

Do you cheer on anyone capable of lending a hand: the doctors, the nurses, the disaster coordinators, the Haitians working without sleep, the American firefighters who go anywhere anytime?

Do you publicly (or quietly) suggest that anyone who suffers that much must have committed some grave sin? Do you wish we would spend our charity at home?

Do you see yourself, your mother, your father, your child in the man/woman/child on the TV? Do you thank God it didn't happen to you?

What do you do?