On Walden Pond

How often do I ask myself, “Why do you participate so willingly in the noisy rat race of humanity?” This is a difficult question when contemplated from the shores of Walden Pond, but my first response is easy–I don’t like being alone all the time and solitude is not all that it’s cracked up to be. At first the idea of being an independent being, completely removed from the frothing mass of humanity seems appealing, far from the maddening crowd. I mean, why should we put up with all the mediatic noise that contaminates our daily routine, the “circuses and bread” thrown to us by idiotic politicians and unthinking news sources that are only interested in defending their own interests and the truth be damned. On Walden Pond I can isolate myself from all of this noise, forget about the savage capitalistic consumerism of my neighbors, shut out the news media, turn a blind eye to the “entertainment” offered on the six hundred channels of cable, and listen to the birds chirp and the wind blow across the pond and through the trees who are my only neighbors. It is easier to live on Walden Pond than it is to tolerate the nonsense that invades my day via newspapers, radio, television, and the internet, but I can’t help but think that something is missing. Granted the noise of the daily grind is infuriating if not irritating, but is perpetual silence preferable? Am I shirking a moral responsibility to participate in the goings on that bother me, irk me, infuriate me? There have been others who have removed themselves from participation in daily life–hermits, anchorites, saints, castaways, the shipwrecked, and in all of those cases there seems to be a sacrifice which is made–the company of other human beings. After re-reading Robinson Crusoe again recently, I came to the conclusion that although Crusoe lived in isolation, he did everything he could to reproduce European society around himself, re-inventing the wheel, so to speak, so that he would feel less alone, and that is what I feel here–alone. Nevertheless, “aloneness” is not entirely a bad thing unless it also looks like a prison sentence that has no end. Perhaps this is why Cain and Abel were brothers, that one alone would have been a tragedy, but paradoxically, the two together was also a tragedy. So one must consider carefully the entire question of human existence in terms of this metaphor, the pair of brothers in which love turned to hate and finally to murder because they could not co-exist without the questions of greed, jealousy, and envy destroying their relationship. Yet, one alone would have also died of eternal melancholy brought on by the loneliness of one voice speaking in a vacuum with no one to hear of either his successes or failures. Is this the central metaphor of human existence? The water laps gently on the shore, the birds twitter and caw overhead, the gentle wind blows through the trees, and if I were to fall, no one would here my cries, no one would be there to help me. The central paradox of Walden Pond seems to be my inability to rid myself of my own humanity, my desire to speak with others, to interact even with those with whom I disagree. My own ideas are interesting but I cannot exist in a vacuum either. Perhaps we are all doomed by our own noise and our inability to separate ourselves from it. In the meantime, I look forward to examining this conundrum a bit further.

On Walden Pond

How often do I ask myself, “Why do you participate so willingly in the noisy rat race of humanity?” This is a difficult question when contemplated from the shores of Walden Pond, but my first response is easy–I don’t like being alone all the time and solitude is not all that it’s cracked up to be. At first the idea of being an independent being, completely removed from the frothing mass of humanity seems appealing, far from the maddening crowd. I mean, why should we put up with all the mediatic noise that contaminates our daily routine, the “circuses and bread” thrown to us by idiotic politicians and unthinking news sources that are only interested in defending their own interests and the truth be damned. On Walden Pond I can isolate myself from all of this noise, forget about the savage capitalistic consumerism of my neighbors, shut out the news media, turn a blind eye to the “entertainment” offered on the six hundred channels of cable, and listen to the birds chirp and the wind blow across the pond and through the trees who are my only neighbors. It is easier to live on Walden Pond than it is to tolerate the nonsense that invades my day via newspapers, radio, television, and the internet, but I can’t help but think that something is missing. Granted the noise of the daily grind is infuriating if not irritating, but is perpetual silence preferable? Am I shirking a moral responsibility to participate in the goings on that bother me, irk me, infuriate me? There have been others who have removed themselves from participation in daily life–hermits, anchorites, saints, castaways, the shipwrecked, and in all of those cases there seems to be a sacrifice which is made–the company of other human beings. After re-reading Robinson Crusoe again recently, I came to the conclusion that although Crusoe lived in isolation, he did everything he could to reproduce European society around himself, re-inventing the wheel, so to speak, so that he would feel less alone, and that is what I feel here–alone. Nevertheless, “aloneness” is not entirely a bad thing unless it also looks like a prison sentence that has no end. Perhaps this is why Cain and Abel were brothers, that one alone would have been a tragedy, but paradoxically, the two together was also a tragedy. So one must consider carefully the entire question of human existence in terms of this metaphor, the pair of brothers in which love turned to hate and finally to murder because they could not co-exist without the questions of greed, jealousy, and envy destroying their relationship. Yet, one alone would have also died of eternal melancholy brought on by the loneliness of one voice speaking in a vacuum with no one to hear of either his successes or failures. Is this the central metaphor of human existence? The water laps gently on the shore, the birds twitter and caw overhead, the gentle wind blows through the trees, and if I were to fall, no one would here my cries, no one would be there to help me. The central paradox of Walden Pond seems to be my inability to rid myself of my own humanity, my desire to speak with others, to interact even with those with whom I disagree. My own ideas are interesting but I cannot exist in a vacuum either. Perhaps we are all doomed by our own noise and our inability to separate ourselves from it. In the meantime, I look forward to examining this conundrum a bit further.

On peanuts

This is my favorite snack food of all time. Ever since I was little and could shell my own, I’ve loved to eat salted, roasted peanuts in the shell. If you go to a baseball game, you must buy a bag of peanuts. I mean, it makes a mess, but who cares, right? There is something quintessentially American about the peanut that other cultures maybe don’t understand. You see peanuts whenever you go–except on airplanes where you used to see them all the time until peanut allergies drove peanuts underground. I know people with peanut allergies, and they are nothing to fool with–fatal even–but I still like to crack open a freshly roasted peanut, fool with the shells, drop half of everything, and finally get an actual peanut up to my mouth. The texture and taste are a perfect combination of sweet and salty that soothes the taste buds and lights up the pleasure center of the brain. Peanuts are used in so many dishes, places, forms, and situations that they are ubiquitous snack that few turn down. When you combine peanuts, sugar, and chocolate you are approaching a divine combination that will carry your taste buds to a sublime level of ecstasy. Yet I love the simple, but extravagant, peanut butter cookie, slightly warm and still soft, just out of the oven. Peanut butter cups–special name brand–are works of pure genius. Yet in spite of my love affair with peanuts, I am not a huge fan of peanut butter, as in peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, which stick in my throat. The taste buds become overwhelmed, and the weird texture of peanut butter is rather unpleasant and problematic. This seemingly unsolvable paradox has haunted me my whole life: I do not like the peanut butter sandwich, not in box, not with a fox, not anywhere. Don’t give me a peanut butter sandwich in my lunch. I won’t eat it. Yet if you give me a little baggy with a peanut-based trail mix in it, something I can sit and pick at, I couldn’t be happier. There is something icky about the unchewable sticky mess that bread makes when mixed with peanut butter–sticks in your teeth, gets caught in the throat, weird to eat in general, and milk will not wash it down. One of the great variations on the salted peanut is the salted and sugared peanut that are sold under the moniker of “beernuts,” peanuts that have been soaked in a sugary caramel before being roasted. Some people put peanuts in sticky, gooey, dessert bars that have lots of corn syrup, chocolate, condensed sweetened milk, granola, almonds, and marshmallow in them. This may be referred to as overkill. Let’s not lose sight of the simple, roasted and salted, peanut, unshelled, sold in simple plastic bags which you can share with your friends. Peanuts are often about sharing and that’s why there are usually two peanuts per shell–it always feels a little weird when you get a solo peanut. Shelling your peanuts is half the fun of eating them. If your technique is good, you won’t crush or shatter the peanut inside the shell, but you have to be careful because they are easy to lose once the shell is open. I know there are those who would boil their peanuts, and I have tried those, but I don’t understand the attraction, an acquired taste perhaps. As a kid I used to eat a candy bar called the “Salted Nut Role,” which was peanuts stuck on to a sugary nougat center–heaven, and the Snickers bar is the pinnacle of candy engineering. That particular company also makes chocolate coated peanuts which was also a stroke of genius. Funny, just another member of the legume family, the peanut is as humble as a plant might be, but its potential, as George Washington Carver pointed out, is almost limitless.

On peanuts

This is my favorite snack food of all time. Ever since I was little and could shell my own, I’ve loved to eat salted, roasted peanuts in the shell. If you go to a baseball game, you must buy a bag of peanuts. I mean, it makes a mess, but who cares, right? There is something quintessentially American about the peanut that other cultures maybe don’t understand. You see peanuts whenever you go–except on airplanes where you used to see them all the time until peanut allergies drove peanuts underground. I know people with peanut allergies, and they are nothing to fool with–fatal even–but I still like to crack open a freshly roasted peanut, fool with the shells, drop half of everything, and finally get an actual peanut up to my mouth. The texture and taste are a perfect combination of sweet and salty that soothes the taste buds and lights up the pleasure center of the brain. Peanuts are used in so many dishes, places, forms, and situations that they are ubiquitous snack that few turn down. When you combine peanuts, sugar, and chocolate you are approaching a divine combination that will carry your taste buds to a sublime level of ecstasy. Yet I love the simple, but extravagant, peanut butter cookie, slightly warm and still soft, just out of the oven. Peanut butter cups–special name brand–are works of pure genius. Yet in spite of my love affair with peanuts, I am not a huge fan of peanut butter, as in peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, which stick in my throat. The taste buds become overwhelmed, and the weird texture of peanut butter is rather unpleasant and problematic. This seemingly unsolvable paradox has haunted me my whole life: I do not like the peanut butter sandwich, not in box, not with a fox, not anywhere. Don’t give me a peanut butter sandwich in my lunch. I won’t eat it. Yet if you give me a little baggy with a peanut-based trail mix in it, something I can sit and pick at, I couldn’t be happier. There is something icky about the unchewable sticky mess that bread makes when mixed with peanut butter–sticks in your teeth, gets caught in the throat, weird to eat in general, and milk will not wash it down. One of the great variations on the salted peanut is the salted and sugared peanut that are sold under the moniker of “beernuts,” peanuts that have been soaked in a sugary caramel before being roasted. Some people put peanuts in sticky, gooey, dessert bars that have lots of corn syrup, chocolate, condensed sweetened milk, granola, almonds, and marshmallow in them. This may be referred to as overkill. Let’s not lose sight of the simple, roasted and salted, peanut, unshelled, sold in simple plastic bags which you can share with your friends. Peanuts are often about sharing and that’s why there are usually two peanuts per shell–it always feels a little weird when you get a solo peanut. Shelling your peanuts is half the fun of eating them. If your technique is good, you won’t crush or shatter the peanut inside the shell, but you have to be careful because they are easy to lose once the shell is open. I know there are those who would boil their peanuts, and I have tried those, but I don’t understand the attraction, an acquired taste perhaps. As a kid I used to eat a candy bar called the “Salted Nut Role,” which was peanuts stuck on to a sugary nougat center–heaven, and the Snickers bar is the pinnacle of candy engineering. That particular company also makes chocolate coated peanuts which was also a stroke of genius. Funny, just another member of the legume family, the peanut is as humble as a plant might be, but its potential, as George Washington Carver pointed out, is almost limitless.

On the wind

The wind is not your friend. The wind has been blowing with quite a bit of force in central Texas, whipping up brush fires, dust, dirt, and tumble weeds. I walked for nearly an hour yesterday in a stiff breeze that was blowing from the east. In Spain they say the wind can drive you mad if you let it. They even gave it a name, the “Tramontana.” While I lived in Minnesota, I always feared a sharp “tramontana” because on a cold day, it could be quite lethal. The still air temperature could often be rather reasonable, but a stiff north breeze at 20 to 30 miles per hour could make being outside a really rough business. Yet the wind is blind, blows on the just and the unjust alike, causing a person to zip up their jacket, raise their collar, and stuff their hands into their pockets. I’ve seen perfectly beautiful days ruined by a strong wind that blows everything around, ruins your picnic, brings rain to the parade, drives a gentle snow into a horizontal frenzy, whips up deadly whitecaps on the lake. Strong winds will ruin a perfectly good run, turning it into a torturous exercise in pain, endurance, and will. Sometimes you cannot put on enough clothing to blot out the effects of a cold north wind that started off somewhere in Ontario and is making a clean sweep of the central plains. Evil winds will wreck your garden, drop hail on your unsuspecting head, ruin your kite flying aspirations, ground your flight to Chicago, and tear the roof off of your garage. High winds were the bane of medieval cathedral architects who were worried about their new high structures–cathedral walls make great sails, which is unintentional, but it could be fatal. Today, architects play with all sorts of strange shapes in an attempt to minimize wind damage and baffle mother nature just long enough so she won’t blow down their buildings. The wind is, of course, a natural by-product of an active atmosphere of a spinning planet as high pressure chases low pressure, seeking to release energy and go to entropy. The problem is that human beings are trying to live in the middle of all this active energy, which can be either good or bad. Good if you are sailing or drying laundry, maybe flying a kite, but bad if you are running into it and have a mile or more to go before you can change direction. The wind can blow a truck off a road, tip over trees, cause cars to fly, break windows, scatter your lawn furniture. Yet, what is more comforting than a light breeze on a warm summer night? Is there anything more comforting than the rustle of a breeze blowing through the tree tops at the end of a summer day? Wind is, however, about disorder and chaos, out of which very little good ever comes. Disorder and chaos speak to our inability to control anything at all. Control is an illusion that the wind has come to destroy. We transfer our own insecurities about life onto metaphors involving the wind because the wind seems to exemplify all that is fragile and ephemeral in life. The wind comes and goes without explanation, much like Fortune itself, which is as inexplicable and as arbitrary as a light summer breeze that might cool your sweaty brow and give comfort to your tired bones. Just as the wind can bring destruction and tragedy, it might also bring a cooling breeze that lightens the heart and give hope to the soul. What we cannot predict, ever, is when and where the wind might blow, whether it is an ill-wind or a gentle breeze, whether we will have to zip up or open a window.

On the wind

The wind is not your friend. The wind has been blowing with quite a bit of force in central Texas, whipping up brush fires, dust, dirt, and tumble weeds. I walked for nearly an hour yesterday in a stiff breeze that was blowing from the east. In Spain they say the wind can drive you mad if you let it. They even gave it a name, the “Tramontana.” While I lived in Minnesota, I always feared a sharp “tramontana” because on a cold day, it could be quite lethal. The still air temperature could often be rather reasonable, but a stiff north breeze at 20 to 30 miles per hour could make being outside a really rough business. Yet the wind is blind, blows on the just and the unjust alike, causing a person to zip up their jacket, raise their collar, and stuff their hands into their pockets. I’ve seen perfectly beautiful days ruined by a strong wind that blows everything around, ruins your picnic, brings rain to the parade, drives a gentle snow into a horizontal frenzy, whips up deadly whitecaps on the lake. Strong winds will ruin a perfectly good run, turning it into a torturous exercise in pain, endurance, and will. Sometimes you cannot put on enough clothing to blot out the effects of a cold north wind that started off somewhere in Ontario and is making a clean sweep of the central plains. Evil winds will wreck your garden, drop hail on your unsuspecting head, ruin your kite flying aspirations, ground your flight to Chicago, and tear the roof off of your garage. High winds were the bane of medieval cathedral architects who were worried about their new high structures–cathedral walls make great sails, which is unintentional, but it could be fatal. Today, architects play with all sorts of strange shapes in an attempt to minimize wind damage and baffle mother nature just long enough so she won’t blow down their buildings. The wind is, of course, a natural by-product of an active atmosphere of a spinning planet as high pressure chases low pressure, seeking to release energy and go to entropy. The problem is that human beings are trying to live in the middle of all this active energy, which can be either good or bad. Good if you are sailing or drying laundry, maybe flying a kite, but bad if you are running into it and have a mile or more to go before you can change direction. The wind can blow a truck off a road, tip over trees, cause cars to fly, break windows, scatter your lawn furniture. Yet, what is more comforting than a light breeze on a warm summer night? Is there anything more comforting than the rustle of a breeze blowing through the tree tops at the end of a summer day? Wind is, however, about disorder and chaos, out of which very little good ever comes. Disorder and chaos speak to our inability to control anything at all. Control is an illusion that the wind has come to destroy. We transfer our own insecurities about life onto metaphors involving the wind because the wind seems to exemplify all that is fragile and ephemeral in life. The wind comes and goes without explanation, much like Fortune itself, which is as inexplicable and as arbitrary as a light summer breeze that might cool your sweaty brow and give comfort to your tired bones. Just as the wind can bring destruction and tragedy, it might also bring a cooling breeze that lightens the heart and give hope to the soul. What we cannot predict, ever, is when and where the wind might blow, whether it is an ill-wind or a gentle breeze, whether we will have to zip up or open a window.

On onions

Not everyone likes onions, genus Allium. You cut them and they irritate your eyes. The chemical that makes you cry while handling onions is syn-ropanethial-S-oxide (C3H6OS), and organic compound with one sulfur molecule. If you eat them raw, they can really light up your mouth. I think that almost anything worth eating, except maybe chocolate cake, probably has onions in it. I have always pondered the problem of making chicken pot pie without either onions or leeks—a troubling question. Structurally, the circular layers of the onion are an art form unto themselves, making chopping and dicing an interesting exercise in geometry, although I hate to peel off the outside layers to start an onion, always an onerous task. Different cooks will slice an onion different ways, and dicing an onion is a bit of a culinary Roar-shock test–across the middle, creating concentric circles, or up and down, creating half-moon spears? I love to watch a professional chef attack an onion because they seem to take onion slicing very personally. I almost always start by cutting the onion in half so I can create some flat surfaces and a little stability with this round bulb. I’ve only cut myself three times while slicing bits off of a round onion–I have the scars to prove it. Nevertheless, thin slices of onions are what make a regular hamburger a piece of culinary magic. I like to put chopped onion on hotdogs too. I like raw onions in a salad, but cooked onions are good in soups and stews, goulashes and hot-dish. The onion, especially when raw, may be a very unhappy experience for some people. It makes your breath smell bad, irritates the inside of the mouth, and wrecks your taste buds for a little while. Personally, I love taste of fresh, raw onions, but perhaps one must acquire that taste over a period of time. Cooked onions, caramelized onions, are another matter entirely. The taste in much tamer, but it is also sweeter and more subtle. Caramelized onions on top of freshly fried blood sausage are a snack attack that cannot be missed. Some people think that the most magical soup ever is onion soup. Chopped onion goes well in tuna salad, egg salad, and ham salad. No one can make a huge Dagwood sandwich without onions, and I think that most sandwiches are better with onion than without them. I love to eat green onions with almost any meal, and an entire onion which has been cut into rings and deep-fried is finger-licking good. Even people who hate raw onions will eat onion rings. I cannot make gumbo or chili or étouffée or clam chowder or seafood stew or most anything worth eating without dicing up some onions first and cooking them into recipe. Meatballs, spaghetti sauce, tortilla española, potato pancakes, are all great food because of onions. Some foods do not benefit from onions: whipped cream, lemon curds, bananas Foster, chocolate mousse, apple pie, milk shakes, or cherries jubilee. I must admit to a certain fascination with eating a whole onion as if it were an apple, especially if it is a “sweet” onion as opposed to a “strong” onion. The sweet Vidalia onion from Georgia has a particularly spicy flavor which is actually quite pleasing, even when raw. Marinated onions, oil and vinegar, a little salt, pepper, sugar, and cream, are to die for, especially if done in conjunction with fresh cucumbers. Allium cepa, enjoy!

On frosters

There is a new fad in the world, and it has nothing to do with decorating cupcakes and everything to do with going out in the snow and acting as if it were not the least bit cold. I’ve done it. It’s nothing new–I was in college, living in a dorm and prone to all sorts of anti-social and strange behavior. After a particularly horrible cold snap where the temperature did not go above zero for almost five days, a few of us donned shorts and t-shirts to go play Frisbee in the snow when the temperature rocketed all the way up into the mid-twenties. We were a little stir crazy to be outside and breath a little fresh air that wouldn’t kill us. We brought out lawn chairs and the grill and made hamburgers–the still air temperature went all the way up to thirty-five that day. We were sweating. That was in January of 1981 in southern Minnesota, now, flash forward thirty years and there are all sorts of photos floating around on the internet machine of people so similar things, but now they have a name: frosters. The idea is to take off most of your clothes and go out in the ice and snow so you can take a picture for the Facebook which your relatives vacationing in Hawaii will see. I can see why this is fun, and I totally understand the insanity. You wouldn’t really get the same effect if you put on a parka and boots and stood out in the heat–it’s not the same. No one cares about how much heat you can tolerate, although I do admire people who can do it. Frosters are just trying to ignore winter the best they can. It’s a mental thing: pretend that the ice and snow don’t matter at all, so that sitting in your lawn chair on the beach at Lake Nakomis in January with a beverage in your hand is your way of expressing your denial. Denial is very important when you are freezing off your cojones trying to get a stubborn car started on cold winter morning. Frosting as an activity is probably an outward sign of mental health even when the short, cold days of winter are getting you down. So putting on your swim suit, sunglasses, flip flops, and sunscreen and going outside in January is a great way of thumbing your nose at Old Man Winter. I don’t dislike Old Man Winter, but sometimes he is a challenge to the spirit. By pretending that he doesn’t matter or that he can’t ever really win, one can ignore winter and get on with life. Most frosters, I am assuming, also do a lot of winter sports such as biking, running, grilling, rock-climbing, and pond hockey. I get snowmobilers, skiers, ice fishermen, skaters and the like are really taking their winters seriously, enjoy the cold, and dream of endlessly falling flakes of snow that will close the schools tomorrow. Frosters would take advantage of a snow day to grill steaks, drink a cold frosty one, work on their tans, and shoot the photo for next year’s Christmas card with the entire family in swimwear and hip deep in a snow drift. A true froster will never admit they are cold. Probably the worst thing a person could do during a long, hard winter is to wallow in their misery, stay inside, and complain to the rest of the world about cold it is outside. Of course it’s cold outside! It’s January in the Midwest, but walk faster, admire the next guy’s stocking hat even if that’s all he’s got on! Without a sense of humor, the entire human race is in serious danger of taking itself too seriously, of believing its own press clippings, of sitting down to weep. The true froster laughs in the face of winter because that is all the human froster can do–any other analysis of the situation is to grim to even contemplate. Or decorate cupcakes.

On dreaming of a white Christmas

So I live in central Texas where it was 81F today on December 3rd. But there is no such thing as global warming. This creepy warm weather is starting to get on my nerves, and it just does not feel like either December or the holiday season no matter how many Christmas carols I hear on the radio. There is no chance that snow will fall in any form within a thousand miles of Waco, Texas between now and Christmas. As a child in Minnesota I was used to all kinds of inclement winter weather–ice, snow, cold, wind, but today I had lunch outside and drank a huge glass of ice-tea and lemonade. The weather is almost surreal. The leaves are finally falling around here, but the heat and dry weather make it seem more like summer than late fall or early winter. The squirrels were frolicking about the quadrangle without a care in the world, fat and sassy, but maybe a little warm in their luxurious fur coats–pecans were a bumper crop for them this year, as were all the different kinds of acorns. I put my coat back in the closet a couple of days ago, and there it hangs, abandoned, forgotten, forlorn. Warm winter weather brings with it a certain melancholy which is hard to describe–cranky, out of sorts, sad, irked. When a person lives outside the influence of the four seasons, one also lives outside the natural cycles of weather. I wouldn’t suggest that people need the cold to feel right, but the changing seasons offer a series of variations that bring variety and hope to the daily lives of people who live every year in a cycle of spring-summer-fall-winter. Warm summer mornings give way to crisp fall days which lead to the icy winds of winter, which will eventually surrender to moist warming breezes of spring. The changing seasons each offer something different, and when you are finally ready for a change, a new season brings something different, and you never get tired of the change. It would be very nice to have a white Christmas, a foot of snow dampens the sound of nature, lowers the temperature to levels that bite at the nose and nip at the toes. The season is not living up to expectations almost anywhere in the country this year, except for a few ski resorts of the northern Rockies. Maybe I should go there. I know I’m idealizing this all out of proportion: that high temperatures in winter save the nation millions in heating costs, traffic accidents are down because of no snow and ice, and towns and municipalities are saving oodles of money by not having to do snow removal. Their budgets overfloweth. But then again, what about the people that make their livings because it snows? The snow removal people sit twiddling their thumbs. the snow shovel guys have boxes full of brand new untouched snow shovels, and the fuel trucks sit idly by, full, but no deliveries. .Warm weather in December cuts a couple of ways, but it does not inspire the spirit. The grow shorter, the nostalgia grows deeper, and the soul yearns to feel a nip in the air, some snow on the ground, and the world taking its long winter’s nap, so all I can do for now is dream. “White Christmas” you ask? Written by someone who had to spend the holidays in Los Angeles and had no white Christmas.

On dreaming of a white Christmas

So I live in central Texas where it was 81F today on December 3rd. But there is no such thing as global warming. This creepy warm weather is starting to get on my nerves, and it just does not feel like either December or the holiday season no matter how many Christmas carols I hear on the radio. There is no chance that snow will fall in any form within a thousand miles of Waco, Texas between now and Christmas. As a child in Minnesota I was used to all kinds of inclement winter weather–ice, snow, cold, wind, but today I had lunch outside and drank a huge glass of ice-tea and lemonade. The weather is almost surreal. The leaves are finally falling around here, but the heat and dry weather make it seem more like summer than late fall or early winter. The squirrels were frolicking about the quadrangle without a care in the world, fat and sassy, but maybe a little warm in their luxurious fur coats–pecans were a bumper crop for them this year, as were all the different kinds of acorns. I put my coat back in the closet a couple of days ago, and there it hangs, abandoned, forgotten, forlorn. Warm winter weather brings with it a certain melancholy which is hard to describe–cranky, out of sorts, sad, irked. When a person lives outside the influence of the four seasons, one also lives outside the natural cycles of weather. I wouldn’t suggest that people need the cold to feel right, but the changing seasons offer a series of variations that bring variety and hope to the daily lives of people who live every year in a cycle of spring-summer-fall-winter. Warm summer mornings give way to crisp fall days which lead to the icy winds of winter, which will eventually surrender to moist warming breezes of spring. The changing seasons each offer something different, and when you are finally ready for a change, a new season brings something different, and you never get tired of the change. It would be very nice to have a white Christmas, a foot of snow dampens the sound of nature, lowers the temperature to levels that bite at the nose and nip at the toes. The season is not living up to expectations almost anywhere in the country this year, except for a few ski resorts of the northern Rockies. Maybe I should go there. I know I’m idealizing this all out of proportion: that high temperatures in winter save the nation millions in heating costs, traffic accidents are down because of no snow and ice, and towns and municipalities are saving oodles of money by not having to do snow removal. Their budgets overfloweth. But then again, what about the people that make their livings because it snows? The snow removal people sit twiddling their thumbs. the snow shovel guys have boxes full of brand new untouched snow shovels, and the fuel trucks sit idly by, full, but no deliveries. .Warm weather in December cuts a couple of ways, but it does not inspire the spirit. The grow shorter, the nostalgia grows deeper, and the soul yearns to feel a nip in the air, some snow on the ground, and the world taking its long winter’s nap, so all I can do for now is dream. “White Christmas” you ask? Written by someone who had to spend the holidays in Los Angeles and had no white Christmas.