You all be safe now.
Chapter 11 - from Small Town Roads (Xulon Publishing Company, early 2017)
You could see the air mass coming on down from
. I couldn't 'help but think of this
one day some years ago wherein the local TV news channel had to substitute a
regular reporter for their meteorologist. She was obviously very
pretty but of weather knowledge-- there was none. But she
tried. What made me snort tea, was in her stress in relaying what was on
the radar, she blurted out on the air. "From the north comes a Giant
Green Blob!!" (that would be precipitation Miss) Canada
Myself, I rely on Accu-Cow weather for the drive. He's the cow that's perched on top of the diner. No, not a real cow, he's made out of some hard plastic. If Accu-cow is dry it's nice out, if he's wet, it's raining. He's always there as I make my way to work or run errands.
But today Accu-cow is almost moving in the stiff wind, a wind that is VERY cold.
The icy wind blows down from
, mother nature pulling the chill deep out
of the ground and throwing it in your face, daring you to fight back. It is a
frigid mass of air we've not seen in my lifetime. Canada
Looking out across a flat horizon I wonder why this view looks so different than when I lived in the city.. Certainly I can put on the scientist hat and say it was the glaciers that moved down from the north in the Cenozoic era, or the giant dust storms that followed that carried the soil away, then replaced by layers of volcanic ash from the West, creating a vista of fertility. But the difference is more how I live in it, as opposed to it's geological origins.
There is something about being able to see so near and so far. Some people feel exposed out in the open land, I don't. I walk the fields, and patrol the streets, nothing more than a moving lightning rod for those things that might wish to strike me, but they don't. I feel a lot out here in the open heartland, my my dog
my side, and it is not fear, it's comfort. It follows me as I walk, the sound
of my breath, the whisper of God there in the corn, the vista of open miles of
ground in which I perceive the absolute truth about the past, a truth beyond
the buildings and billboards of illusion.
Trees throughout much of the northern plains are few, taken down so that the soil may be tilled, only a few remaining as protection against the marauding wind that cuts through the land late at night like a Viking horde. The cold presses down, pressing deep, into layers of topsoil, and the bones of ancient buffalo, who bury themselves further down to get out of the wind, strataform of bones and life and death, forming the coal that drives much of this area.
Tonight, this close to the window, I can almost smell the cold, the odor of a whetted knife, carving shadows into the night. My body responds in a way as ancient as these lands, and I pull my black sweater across my chest, tight and warm, and turn away from the glass.
"You ought to move south", my friends from college would say. "How about
or California ?" I enjoyed as a youth, like anyone,
days snorkeling, blue water dreams and tropical sun. But that is not where I
want to live year round. I am not at home in such places all of the time,
preferring these months of quiet cold, time to think, to write, to dream broad
dreams, icy fingers down my neck making me shiver, the fire, melting
marshmallow against my skin, melting me. Florida
The lamplight dances along the walls, my shadow following.
Clyde is asleep on the rug, feet in the
air, exposing warm fur to a remembered sun of August, feet chasing dusk
colored rabbits within a dream. I think back to tales of my ancestors on my
Mom's side, who came to the settling in United States . Of great grandpa, new to the country,
moving a household across miles of land, risking all he had to form a new life
out where winters are raw, beating miles of ocean and illness and pain, only to
lose most of his money, belongings and food as wind swept fire roared through
where he lay sleeping one night. But he got out, accessed the damage, and
gathered those small coins he had left to him, and moved on to safer ground. Minnesota
The wind sings its siren song against the eaves, daring me to leave, to admit that staying in the
Midwest, the land of my ancestors, where I had no family other than my
Aunt was not a good idea.. But I won't. The price that was exacted for learning
my way alone out here left my heart an almost empty purse, with just a few
scattered coins tinkling in the bottom. Yet I know it was a journey I had to
make. You make decisions with what is in the heart at the time, and when the
chill wind blows, you take stock of your life and your decisions and seek
shelter elsewhere or you stand and fight for your life and heart, and what
fuels it. To do otherwise is to wither and die. Out here, the price of
innocence is high.
Outside, the wind howls, mute in its anger, with no breath now but a sigh. Clyde the Lab and I flee inside with drumming hearts and warm hands and hoist a challenge to the cold as the fire ignites the night. Here and there faint windows glow, while the trees outside lay their shadows across my shirt like scraps of black velvet. I close the curtain and pour the wine and listen to my heart.
They say the
Rockies are God's country, but so is this, a small juncture of trees and
grass and an old easy chair inside a warm house. A small point in space among a
great expanse of glory, where the Trinity is intact because it had never been
otherwise, simply tested by the fragility of youth and the passion of yearning.
God lost and then found, postulated here in the open miles of our faith and
I think I understand why my grandparents settled here and I find, more and more, that I am like them. I belong to this cold landscape, surviving like the small creatures outside, by wit and heart and faith in my Lord. As I turn back towards the fire, I listen to the wind, tapping the glass with the resonant sound of a few small coins that are left in my heart, ready to be spent. I know that I'm where I need to be, as snow brushes the window like a kiss and I wait for the knock of wind at my door.
- L.B. Johnson