Saturday, March 1, 2014

The Hard Times Make the Good Times Even Sweeter

Here we are at the beginning of March and it still feels like Chelyabinsk around here. We're caught in the grip of some kind of trough in the upper atmosphere pulling down the Arctic air mass like a low pressure blanket we can't get out from under. This grey, stagnant, sub-zero weather has me longing for the feel of a warm breeze, the smell of spring and the sight of some green popping up through the mud. It's easy to feel like hibernating. Wake me up when old man winter has vacated the premises.

But rather than sleep it off, better to appreciate the cold, the ice, the discomfort for what it is, an opportunity. My neighbors are in the woods as I type, laying plastic tube, tromping and cracking through the layer of permafrost between trees because they know, just a couple of frozen feet below their boots, in the soil, that old dependable maple sweetness is just waiting for the first sign, the first hint of a crack in the wintry visage and then it will be flowing as strong as ever. A winter like this makes for great maple tapping, just like hard times make the good times even sweeter. A smile on a hoar-rimmed, red-cheeked face with the snot frozen like an icicle on the tip of the nose is the cheeriest smile in the world. These light-hearted tropical laughs you hear about, they're as thin as Scottish pancakes, I bet. Give me a winter that runs like this one has, good to the last frozen drop. Read this over and over to yourself and before you know it, it'll be spring.

Which brings me to my next point, the cyclical nature of things. Just like the climate, the political sphere seems to go through the same events over and over like echoes of a past we thought we'd cleared. Here we are on the brink of war in Europe with Ukraine fighting to preserve its infant independence and the Russian motherland holding the Crimea in its fist in order to preserve its precious access to the Black Sea. It's one of those moments when the whole world is holding its breath and hoping the tectonic plates don't shift too fast or too strong.

And the point of art is...to allow us to escape our woes and somehow to slowly supersede them, maybe? I'm not claiming that the stuff i write does that. But it seems that it's quite possible that some of the books written by the great writers of the past and present manage to point the way forward for human beings to understand and recognize the possibility and potential pitfalls of our attitudes. Reading books and writing books is an act of faith that what we do and think and how we act and what we say matters. My worst moments in life where when, mostly as a child, I felt that nobody seemed to realize this, that nothing anybody said or did mattered because somehow it was all pre-determined, the adults had it all figured out and it was all wrong. Well, the key to life is that nothing stays the same, therefore everything matters. Adults especially need to remember this because kids already know.

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