Saturday, January 1, 2011

Teasing in the New Year

It was a February day back in the mid-90's. A group of us had just arrived at the airport in Las Vegas and were standing in Chris Royer's driveway. Donna's son was getting married and we traveled out west to celebrate it. As we were pulling bags out of the back-end of the rental car, I gazed around the neighborhood. Palm trees swayed in the gentle breeze. As temperatures hovered near the mid-70's, I realized how warm I was getting in my long-sleeved shirt and heavy winter coat. As I took some bags to the guest bedroom, I quickly changed into a t-shirt and some shorts that I had brought with me. Stepping outside, it was as if I was transported into a time-warp. For an instant, the reality of winter dissolved. I stared down at my pale, white legs, and I gasped. Was it really...February?

I thought of that moment the other day as I was tossing cardboard into the recycle-basket we have sitting by the back door. As I stuffed cardboard into it, I looked through the window down at the deck. For the past month, all throughout the Christmas shopping days, the deck was covered with a foot of snow that had accumulated since winter began. I'd occasionally carve out a path to the front of the deck so that I could dump things in Donna's compost pile below, but for the most part, the drifts remained un-touched.

But the same glowing feeling struck me on Wednesday of this past week as temperatures, for some reason, began to warm. Near the door, the snow and ice had dissipated, and I could see the red-hued deck-planks, the sun already having dried the ones exposed under the mounds of snow. And it transported me to April, when hope rose to the surface of every pore in anticipation of this being the last remnants of snow for the year.

Yes, it was false. But I preferred to let it become the reality of the present. I repeated the process yesterday as I carefully mounted my new motorcycle. After weeks of planning around schedules and, especially, weather, here it was sitting in my driveway. And for some reason, those same divinities that tossed a teasing glance at us that day in Las Vegas provided a sequel on the last day of 2010.

Trying to familiarize myself with the controls of a new motorcycle, I toured some of the nearby neighborhoods and pretended that it was a brisk but sunny Spring day. The few residual slush-piles at the end of driveways would turn to water by mid-afternoon, I told myself. In a few weeks, by the time I had become more accustomed to a standard-transmission again, I will have already removed the liner from my jacket in preparation of the first 60-degree day of the year.

Life's grand tease here in northeast Ohio. Are the Divinities being gracious, or are they cruel? On this first day of the New Year, I prefer to think it's both. We will be in the mid-50's today, but rain will accompany those temperatures for most of the day, which would make a ride for today questionable. And the rest of the week will be a solid whack of reality, a 2 x 4 to the head as these mild temperatures plummet downwards.

But that's alright. Like that day in Vegas, the New Year brought a gift, if only for a moment. Regardless of the year, January can be cruel. We'll take a burst of compassion whenever we can get it.


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