It barely nudged below zero (-18° Celsous) last night, reaching -0.2° before midnight. Then some high clouds began sliding over, and we were up to 5° by dawn. (-15° Celsius.) The cold arctic high had crested over us, and winds were starting to swing around slightly to the south. In the wake of the high pressure a weak Alberta clipper was crossing the Great lakes in the northern stream, pushing a small pocket of light snow towards us, as down in the Gulf of Mexico a low was malingering and failing to “phase” with the northern low.
The patch of snow that appeared on radar dried up as it approached us, though a few flakes might of flown while I was at church. Church was quiet and a little somber, as we are down to around 25 people in a sanctuary built for 200. Strangely, I sort of liked it.
At first I was feeling a bit like the final follower of some aboriginal religion about to become defunct. After all, Yankees are Native Americans, because all over the world people say, “Yankee Go Home,” and they don’t mean Europe. We have our odd, puritanical ways, and if we were like the other Native Americans I’ve met we’d call our ways “sacred traditions,” and insist everyone respect our whims. However one of our sacred traditions is to not do that.
All over the world I suppose there are old ways going through the grinder of modern, mass-media-inspired fashion. Deep in the Amazon there are native teenagers strutting about with boom-boxes, utterly forgetting the art of shrinking heads. Cannibals in remote places are becoming vegetarians and drinking whipped coffee. So I suppose it will happen here in my homeland as well. Calvinist doctrine will become as forgotten as the rituals of the druids are in Europe.
However it seems there is always a remnant who remembers. While amassing notes for my novel I came across an item I won’t use, but always struck me as rather neat.
When I was going to school in Scotland back in 1970 my mother and stepfather rented a place down in England as he studied and taught at Oxford during his sabbatical, and along with the house came a couple of elderly cleaning ladies. One was well past retirement age, but worked in a slow and methodical way that got her jobs done, more out of habit than due to any great need for the skimpy wages. She walked to work, and refused to let my mother drive her home even in rainy weather.
One afternoon in December, when the sun goes down quite early in England, she was leaving the house on a starry evening, and my mother watched her as she shuffled away down the walkway. The woman looked to the side, and spotted the full moon rising on the horizon. She painfully got down on her knees and bowed to it, before again rising with effort, and continuing on.
Usually my mother poked fun at the rustic beliefs of the two cleaning ladies that came with her rented home. For example, she overheard them arguing about whether an invisible ghost that could be heard on dark nights riding a horse down a certain unlit street in town was headless or not. My mother thought it was funny because both women agreed the ghost was invisible, so why did it matter if a head could be seen or not? However seeing the older cleaning lady bow to the moon gave her shivers. She felt she was witnessing something very ancient.
At times going to church makes me feel very ancient. If modern people are going to worship anyone on Sunday it is likely the quarterback for whatever football team they most like to watch. People only turn to God when their team is losing.
However as I sat today it occurred to me that the very first Christian churches likely were quite small, and held in people’s homes. In some cases they couldn’t read the four gospels, because they hadn’t been written yet. They were awaiting their first epistle from Paul in the mail. However it didn’t keep them from wonder, and awe, and love.
Not a bad church service, all in all.
After church I had various chores to do, but didn’t do any as people kept visiting. I did notice the weather seemed much warmer, so I checked my new Christmas thermometer, and saw it was up to 20°. (-7° Celsius.)
It never ceases to amaze me how the northern metabolism gets used to cold temperatures, even in the case of an old geezer like myself who doesn’t much like the winter any more. A month ago I wrote a sonnet about it. The same temperature that would have us hugging ourselves and shuddering in September seems balmy in January, and we walk swinging our arms with our coat unbuttoned, if we even bother with a coat.
In London, during World War Two, people even got used to the precipitation being Hitler’s bombs. Where Hitler thought he could crush the human spirit, the human spirit refused to be crushed.
Rather than falling with nightfall, the temperatures have continued to slowly rise, and are up to 24° (-4° Celsius.) However the map shows more cold high pressure building and coming behind the one retreating, so we may not even break freezing during this “warm up.” We may get some snow as the next cold wave moves in, but it looks like the southern branch feature is going to keep on malingering to our south, and we won’t get the super-storm (which I feel is coming this winter, down in my bones,) any time too soon.