I spent my first few days of 2024 in Nebraska. I’ve been fortunate the past several times I’ve been there in the winter, that the weather was cold, but mild. Not so much this time. In fact, the day I was scheduled to leave, a major blizzard was about to hit. With eyes on my weather radar app, I arose early and headed out before dawn. The app indicated that along the interstate there was already some activity, but there was also a section that was still clear. It was definitely a window of opportunity before the looming storm arrived full on.
It’s been over 50 years since I lived in a cold climate and had to drive in snowy conditions. As I drove along I-80 that morning in the dark, the snow and wind picked up, limiting visibility. I could barely see the lines on the road. For about an hour I closely followed a semi, so I would know where to drive. Admittedly, I said lots of prayers for my safe arrival at the small airport located outside of Grand Island. Thankfully, conditions did clear up for the last 45 minutes of the drive. I was never so grateful to hand over my rental car keys.
It was 9:00 in the morning and my plane was scheduled to leave around 7:45 in the evening. I found a small table by the window looking out on to the runway and settled in for the next ten hours. Only two flights were scheduled for the rest of the day, one being mine. It was fascinated watching the heavy equipment ploughing snow for the entire day and even into the night as my departure time approached. Eventually, I did arrive home, gladly, appreciative for living in a warmer climate.
As the week has unfolded, weather is still on my mind. With heavy storms continuing in other parts of the country, I’m wondering what this new year holds for us. Will it take us by surprise with a weather version the 2020 pandemic? I sense that it will be intense, whatever it will be. We had a taste of it yesterday on the playground. The wind was gusting like I’ve never seen it before. Leaf piles were spiraling around like miniature tornadoes, and some of the kids were shouting, “Tornado! Tornado!” I assured them they weren’t tornadoes, but they remained stirred up anyway. Shade screens were flapping wildly in the wind, and I was grateful when the bell finally rang to end recess.
Whatever this new year is like, I sense that it’s going to require a response from us that is both mindful and courageous. Planet Earth has storms on many levels that will demand our attention. It can feel overwhelming. I do have hope, though, that somehow we’ll find a way to weather whatever comes our way. I receive inspiration to stay with it when I read poems like this one, written by Indy, one of our second graders:
I would stay in the forest for autumn
If you would come.
I would lay on a blue moon with my family.
I would go to a foggy forest
in a big cloud.
I would lay in the snow
until it turns to water
and fall will come.