Between the Waters

What We Are

By: EarlB, 9:37 PM GMT on December 27, 2006

Have a Happy and Prosperous New Year!

I can almost guarantee that you'll see or hear that wish somewhere over the next
week or so. And, it's a pretty big bill to fill.

Before Christmas, on some days off, I had the pleasure of talking with a lot
of people. Most of the time it was just a pleasant exchange of Christmas greetings, but
there were ample opportunities to share fragments of real conversation: weather, Santa Claus
speculations, sports woes (the pain of being a Washington Redskin fan this year).

With so many children wishing for snow (and some of the children "old enough to know better"),
it's hard not to get caught up in that nearly hopeless yearning (to keep this a legitimate
weatherunderground blog, i'll point out that there is only a 11% chance of having snow on the
ground (in the Norfolk area) at Christmas). I was sobered from my childish hopes when,
in one of those extended conversations, I was told by a woman that the unseasonably
warm weather was an unexpected gift: she wasn't spending a lot of money heating her home
so long as the weather stayed warm.

She wasn't complaining like we all do from time to time, the price of gasoline, the
price of groceries, the endless parade of bills, her comment was matter-of-fact. Warmer
temperatures : More money. For OTHER essentials. This was the same woman I had just seen
put her grocery store change into a red kettle for people less fortunate.

If you've read any of my other entries, you are probably thinking, moral, moral, where's
the bloody moral, get on with this. I'm not so sure I can come up with one this time. I want
to say that we are all rich, richer than we know, in more ways than we know. That's what
I felt after talking with the woman. But, that has been said and thought into triteness.
It is poverty that we have in common. We are all poorer than we imagine, whether in dollars
or compassion or spirit.

May we all be more prosperous this year.
Happiness... I'm not so sure.

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White Christmas

By: EarlB, 4:23 AM GMT on December 20, 2006

It's time to start the yearly vigil, not for Santa, but for the even more elusive "White Christmas". With apologies to Bing, Rosemary, Danny and Vera-Ellen, it's not the 1954 Classic that we seek (I think that the tape is in a box upstairs, with all of the other seasonal classics), but the blanket of white, frozen, precipitation in the air or on the ground on the 25th of December.

Why this fascination with specifically timed precipitation? Though the movie became part of my (and certainly many others') fiber, drawing on the giddy nostalgia for the celebrated peacetime years just after World War II, it only told the story of the precariously fickle winter entertainment industry in New England (which now isn't so much a problem since the inception of "man-made" snow).

The commercial "Christmas Season" (starting just prior to Halloween and ending around 11 pm on December 24 (unless the after-holiday sales and return days are counted as part of the "festivities"!)) with all of the accompanying propaganda of music and story certainly has stamped us with expectations of a sort, but can that be the only driving force for our hopes and wishes? After all, many of us, southerners to be sure, might be expecting quite a bit.

Here we are at the end of a year, a year in which we probably have been chastized, forgotten, ignored and generally stymied. Living isn't a neat and organized occupation, many times it's downright dirty and disappointing. Dreams are regularly dashed, dreams can become hopeless pursuits. In the midst of this year-end gloom, we are offered a promise, a promise of renewal, which our wounded psyches accept with open arms and prayerful hearts, this tangible representation of the Promise of renewal in this perfect, white, winter blanket, a blanket that covers our doubts, that changes our perspective.

Remember the real Blanket, the real Cleansing Coat we pray for, but if you are caught humming strain's from Mr. Berlin's classic, I think it will be okay.

It goes, "I'm dreaming of a...".

Love to all.

Updated: 4:29 AM GMT on December 20, 2006

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Fire

By: EarlB, 4:53 AM GMT on December 10, 2006

Fire is the first magic trick that humans ever learned. Even in this
age of "all-electric" homes and "hybrid" cars, the warmth of natural
heat is oddly more comforting, maybe because of the intimate contact with
the flame. Growing up, I remember the stifling heat of coal-fired
cookstoves in the summertime kitchen prevailing. In winter it was the
ever-present but not-far-reaching glow in the living room stove. But,
in autumn, when the evening air would first get that crispness to it,
the smokey necessity of burning the accumulation of leaves would turn
into the luxury of a night around an outdoor fire.

I remember, as the sky darkened and the colors changed from twilight
blues to the golds of the flames and embers, that those new colors
transported the faces of those around me magically to softer, warmer
times: Mama and Roy Sr. were suddenly perfect, aches, pains and time
erased from their faces. My sister, Gordon, already blossoming to
beautiful in her own right, became a woman, the light of the future in her
brown eyes.

The sparks floating toward the stars recalled the fireflies of earlier
summer, each carrying my thoughts and wishes upward. Every floating
ember a prayer cast heavenward. In those days I prayed for love, begged
for first romance, a young boy looking for something yet to be defined.

Forty years later, I still cast my prayers skyward with the flames. I may
have given up on the romance, but there's still love in my prayers: I
wish that the faces of Mama, Papa and Gordon sat across from me, cast
in that perfect light. My prayers are for those not here with me now,
separated by miles, time and life.

Adapted from Roy B Tandy's "Letters Home"
Adapted and used with permission of the author

Updated: 11:33 AM GMT on December 10, 2006

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Aesop and the Army-Navy Game

By: EarlB, 3:34 AM GMT on December 03, 2006

Winter's coming, the goose is getting fat. Well, not only the goose, call it a natural response to the oncoming cold season, putting on that little extra bit of weight, call it overeating at the Thanksgiving table, it doesn't really matter, it's just an extra pound or so that will melt away next summer. Right!

Aesop reminds us about the industry of the ant, putting by stores for the winter. here on the farm you see that same industry except that I'm the ant, and my stores are firewood. And, it's timely industry, looks like i'll be dipping into the firewood larder this weekend. The wood is dry and my fingers are crossed this time of year, hoping my eyeball estimate of how much wood is necessary in February of one year will be adequate the following January.

It's the changing of the seasons, it's biblical, a time to sow, a time to reap (if the bugs and the deer don't reap first!). I was thinking back to 30 plus years ago when I lived 200 miles north of here, when winters were winters(!), or so I remember. The Army-Navy game was my cue, it was time to put the snow tires on the car. It was quite the ritual, the official start of Winter, and a pleasant one. The best game of the year was aired on the AM radio band, cars didn't have FM radios (let alone satellite radio) then, so I would listen to the game on the car radio, root for Navy (every year), get the tires changed and welcome winter, ready for the snow.

Winters aren't what they used to be (smartest move I ever made, heading south), radial tires were invented, four-wheel drive became popular, there was no reason to change tires here in the sunny south (yesterday it was 70 degrees F) today, game day, so I didn't. I didn't listen to the game, either.

Snow is forecast for Monday. Go Navy! It's traditional!

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