I haven’t had to document “The worst winter ever” for the past few days, as we’ve had a wonderful spell of spring-like weather. I know better than to be fooled by it, for we get snows into April this far north, and only in May do we call snows (which do occasionally happen) “freakish”. However just because I am not fooled by it has been no reason to frown. Frowns have been few and far between, on the winter-weary faces I’ve seen.
Smiles are a good thing to see, as this has always been a time of toughness, in New England. One reason for having Lent when it is, is because, back in the day, food supplies were getting short. One reason for corn beef and cabbage being a traditional Saint Patrick’s Day meal was that corn beef was the only meat left, and cabbage, carrots and potatoes was all that was left in your root cellar. Then, midst this general poverty, towns would hold their Town Meeting.
It was a smart time to talk about budgets. People were bound to be more frugal and practical when they were basically broke, then they would be midst the bounty of harvest. Also, during harvest, everyone was busy harvesting. In March there tends to be little to do, as the fields are all slush and muck, if they are not snow covered. Planting began in April.
Town Meetings were also a time to meet people you hadn’t seen during the cold, snowy days when it was hard to get out much. Unfortunately we are are more mobile now, and this makes it even less likely to see neighbors, for everyone tends to work miles from their homes and neighbors. It also makes it hard for people to attend Town Meetings, and sadly our town abandoned that wonderful example of democracy in favor of elections, which allow people to rush in and cast votes on topics they know next to nothing about, and haven’t heard discussed from both the Yea and Nay sides.
A major issue our little town faced was whether or not to slash the school budget. Such discussions can get ugly, because on one hand there are the “it’s for the children” arguments, and on the other hand the economy is bad, and people are on the verge of losing their homes, and one may hear “it’s for the senior citizens” arguments, because soaring taxes hit those on fixed incomes especially hard. I agonized over the choice, but in the end voted against slashing the budget, however my vote was in the minority.
Considering how serious the implications are, and how many work at the local schools, it was hard to walk into the voting place without feeling guilty as you passed school children with pickets reading, “Save our drama club” and such things. It didn’t matter that I was voting the way they wanted, for there were other signs taking the other view. It is a sort of gauntlet you have to get through, and even though the ballot is secret I always feel as guilty as hell.
But there were nothing but smiles to be seen, in the sunshine, this year. Fifty degrees! Do you have any idea how long it has been?
There are times our common sense and intellectual nature is overwhelmed. It doesn’t make a lick of sense, but it happens, like when a very attractive person smiles at you.
Then you see, out in the Childcare’s playground, that the igloo the children delight in has collapsed into a pile of slushy snow, and you look at the weather map, and you realize that the pile of slushy snow will turn into rock-like ice tomorrow. What sort of playground is that?
There are times our common sense returns with a rush, as it does when an attractive and smiling person walks away, and we realize our wallet is missing.
I need to give myself a good slap in the face, and repeat over and over, “It isn’t May yet. It isn’t May yet.”