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Tony W. Cartledge | Blog

Entries in snow (5)


Another week, another storm ...

Are we tired of snow yet? It's as beautiful as icing on a cake, but -- not unlike fluffy buttercream frosting -- it's possible to have too much of a good thing, even for Southerners who rarely see the stuff. 

I made the mistake of venturing out for some paraffin oil late this morning, just in case the power goes out. It took an hour to drive the six miles back home, and I felt lucky to make it as quickly as I did. 

The store was out of lamp oil, as I should have expected. 

With a heavy coating of sleet and freezing rain in the forecast, we decided to shovel the four inches of powder covering the driveway, but it was like painting the Golden Gate Bridge -- by the time we finished, it was time to start again. 

At least the axles should clear the next time we go out ... hopefully before next week. 

Inconvenience aside, the pouring snow remains a gift. The amazing view from our bay window is a distraction to writing Bible studies, but not insurmountable.

Hot chocolate and soup never taste quite so good as when enjoyed against a background blanket of white. 

Snow happens: we may as well enjoy it.

Best wishes to all for steady warmth and dependable power to see you through the storm. 

Sounds suspiciously like a metaphor, doesn't it?

Apply at will.


No days like snow days

For folks who rarely see a good snow, a few inches of powder that doesn't melt upon contact can make for exciting times.

Local TV stations pre-empt scheduled programming for round-the-clock reports of traffic conditions while shivering reporters stand at empty intersections and try to make up something interesting.

Children get out of school (in our case, a full day before the first flake fell), and many businesses close.

People who rarely eat bread or drink milk rush to the grocery store to stock up.

It's ridiculous.

And yet, it's fun. Grungy pavement and weedy yards become pristine. Barren branches and evergreens sport snowy highlights, while porches and patios reveal surprising new geometry.

Kids play, snowballs fly, animals romp, adults post pictures on Facebook and Instagram.

Some jobs can't be postponed, but most folks heed the warnings to stay at home. Even when there's work to be done, it's more fun by the fire with a mug of hot chocolate close by and a picturebook world outside the window.

We know when it comes that it won't last long, and we know it will cause hardship for those who lose power or have to change travel plans or have to work regardless, but we're not sorry for enjoying the glittering day as a gift of God, who "gives snow like wool" and "scatters frost like ashes" (Ps. 147:16).

We enjoy it while we can.


Stopping by woods ...

I have yet to see a white Christmas on Dec. 25: it didn't start snowing at my parents' home in Georgia until the day after, but that's close enough. And it snowed little more than an inch, but it was a wet, fluffy, beautiful snow that turned the woods into a wonderland.

I find it fascinating to see how a little snow can turn bare branches into a work or art, or transform the hard leaves of a young magnolia into fluffy white flowers.

I couldn't get a decent picture, but the cardinals and yellow finches were out in force. In all the world of nature, I find few things prettier than a redbird in the snow with his feathers fluffed against the cold.

Walking by the woods' edge reminded me, of course, of Robert Frost's well-known poem, a long-time favorite:

Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening

Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village, though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.

My little horse must think it queer  
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.

He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake. 
The only other sounds the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.

The woods are lovely, dark, and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,

And miles to go before I sleep.


Many of us will have lots of travel miles yet to go this Christmas season, and all of us have miles to go in this thing we call life. May the miles you travel be both meaningful and safe -- and may they make a positive difference to others, before you lie down to sleep.


Write the check today

If you are one of the millions of folks in the Southeast whose neighborhood roads looked like this on Sunday, and whose church services were canceled due to snow and ice, write the check today.

As a pastor for 26 years, I always had mixed feelings about snow days. Like anyone else, I enjoyed having an unexpected day off, though I missed the fellowship and worship I always looked forward to on Sunday.

There was always another cause of concern, too -- no offering. Few churches can afford to lose a full week's offering, especially in this current time of economic difficulty when churches are already struggling more than usual.

So, if you tend to contribute your tithes or offerings each week rather than once per month or on a budget basis, remember that you didn't put anything in the plate today. Go ahead and write the check anyway. Next Sunday, write another one. If you don't usually contribute, we need to have a whole other talk.

Church expenses go on whether services are held or not. Mission obligations remain. Salaries and utility bills need to be paid.

So, if you didn't set something aside on Sunday, please write the check today, and bring it with you next week. If God's folks don't remain faithful, the financial health of the church, like the squirrel who left these tracks, could be up a tree.


A certain kind of quiet

There's a certain kind of quiet that comes with a soft blanket of snow that swirls easily down and settles where it lands, making cars and mailboxes and boxwoods stand out like so many cakes adorned with a fat layer of icing.

I like it best in the woods, where straggling leaves wear white hats and stark branches double their thickness beneath the cold blanket of snow.

We don't get much snow where I live, so we soak it in while we can.

Amid the silence of the trees, God shouts.