It’s hard to see people in the winter months here. Michiganders bundle up. Hats ride low over the eyes to block the lake-effect winds that will knock your socks off. Those cute boots you see other folks wearing? In other states? We don’t have them. Our boots are FIRST easy to get on and off SECOND warm and THIRD dry. Attractiveness falls in somewhere down the line… but a cute pair of boots can’t help hat hair. And if your hair is going to look like it’s going to look (which is not awesome), well… boot aesthetics are the last thing on one’s mind, ya know? These Mitten Folk are a function over form kind of people.
I can’t really tell you what he looked like- the man standing a the counter in the butcher shop yesterday. He was dressed from head to toe in working gear- an insulated brown jacket, a neon orange hat, heavy boots, and canvas pants that could stand up without a body in them. His hands were bare. They are the only thing you see undressed these days, and they are only uncovered long enough to sign the bill or answer a call. The gloves stay close. They’ll be back on soon enough.
He looked at his buddy standing next to him.
“This winter is crazy, Charlie.”
“Don’t I know it.”
“That’s why I filled my silos up to the top this fall. Did you? Or did you take it easy?”
“I did- I filled them up. We’ll be all right.”
And with a nod, the two went about their business in silence.
I paid my bill, put my gloves back on, and headed back outside.
Did I fill my silos up to the top this fall? Can I last through another month of this hurricane winter? What’s left in the storehouse? I know this: I am weathered and worn. My heart is a little battered. I’ve said ‘no’ to good things and I’ve been hurt by incidentals and I’ve walked a half a mile with wet snow in my boot. The physical weather has been brutal. The internal climate has been better than years past, but the variable are constantly changing. My kids are harder this year. I’m healthier this year. Curt and I are better this year. The weather is ridiculous this year.
Did you? Did you fill up this fall before winter came and settled in and decided to extend his trip? I think maybe I danced away my last couple of fall days instead of filling the silos to the top. Or maybe the amount of dancing was exactly right. I guess we’ll see. I can always look at the calendar and get an idea of when one season ends and the next begins. What I can’t predict is how difficult the current season will be.
That’s where faith comes in.
I can prepare and store up and weather and hold out, but my preparation will always be lacking. There are spaces and moments and chill that only faith will bridge.
Lent starts next Wednesday. It’s the home stretch of winter. The final push. I know everyone has their own personal markers, but Easter always means spring has arrived for me.
Winter in Michigan is what it’s supposed to be: a time of slow growth, dormancy, staying in, keeping short accounts (because ain’t nowhere else to go, baby). The focus shifts physically and emotionally inward as the weather changes. The time to plant and be outside and put plan to action will be here soon… but there is still this final bit. This essential time of transition where we wrap up winter before putting it, finally, to bed.
Here’s praying my heart, mind, and body have enough left in the reserves to make that final push- those blessed days of reflection and remembrance. It’s always a shock to the system to be reminded that a good life- a present and worthwhile life- requires one to be intentional about the easy and the hard stuff… and even the in between stuff. And that means finishing well.