A Yearning For My Front Steps

This morning I have an inexplicable yearning to go outside and sit on my front steps and breathe in life.

It is the appearance of the sun in what has been a cold and bleak and cloudy Minnesota which brings to mind spring and thoughts of flowers and warm weather. However, I can’t explain my feeling that I need a front step sit. I have a perfectly good outside porch to enjoy but something in me tells me I need steps.

Though the sun is shining today my front steps and porch are crusted with ice. It is still winter and there is still snow on the ground. I like the beauty of winter as long as I don’t have to haul my old body outside. The pull is real to feel the fresh air on my face so I may dash out, raise my face to the sun and dash back inside to the warmth of my fireplace. Still, I feel the call of the front steps or the back steps for a peaceful sit.

Outdoor furniture awaits my porch sitting so why would I abandon that in place of the front steps? I think it has to do with my past and memories.

Living at my grandmothers and then when my family moved, we didn’t have fancy outdoor furniture. We would go outside and sit on the steps and talk and enjoy the evening. The front steps were better than the back steps because you could chat with those passing by or you could wave at the cars going by. Occasionally they would stop and talk.

There were interesting views. At my grandmother’s house I sat on the front steps and watched the trains go by or watched the animals. My mom or uncles would come in from the chores or the garden and we would talk for hours on the front steps. At our house my dad would sit with me as we watched the neighbor kids play or visited with those in the neighborhood, sometimes calling across the street. There were no cell phones or outdoor phones to distract us.

I do sit on my front concrete steps occasionally in this day and age for a quick moment when I am shaking out a rug or waiting for someone to pick me up, but most of the time I sit on my comfy chair on my outdoor porch or my patio. I have to say that for some reason it isn’t the same. Perhaps because of the front step memories.

I have no good explanation for yearning for my front steps unless it is perhaps missing those that used to share my experience. I also shared many front step conversations with my best girlfriends. If those steps could talk they would reveal so much about the past lives of the step sitters.

Perhaps when the ice is gone I will forgo my porch and patio for an occasional step sitting. I have a feeling it will be a good way to breathe and appreciate the simple life of the past,

“A journey to a thousand miles begins with one step.” –John F.Kennedy

Visit Minnesota, Weather Special Today and Tomorrow Only

Good Morning. I would like to invite all my California relatives and friends in the west and south to visit today. It is an excellent time to experience the beautiful state of Minnesota. We are all on vacation today and tomorrow. I can promise you beautiful landscapes. You can view frozen lakes, frozen breath, frozen pipes, slippery roads, frozen toes and noses and the clean air will take your breath away. I promise you ice cold drinks and weather you have never experienced before. Don’t miss the chance to visit our state today and tomorrow. It will be the experience of a lifetime.

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I never deny my age so it is with interest I watched the news reports and the warning of our possibly -60 with wind chill weather conditions the next two days. I don’t remember ever feeling anxiety about the cold settling in such as we have now.

It used to be a fact of life that winter would be dangerously cold. I don’t remember my parents being alarmed about below zero temperatures, or anyone else for that matter. They bundled up or stayed in out of the cold. People were prepared with food because much of the food was grown during the summer and canned and stored on shelves in the pantry or basement.

We didn’t worry about whether the grocery stores were open because grocery stores didn’t have the hours we have now, and would close at five o’clock and open at eight in the morning. We were used to always having food on the shelf. In those days people were prepared.

All of us were the owners of heavy winter outer clothes and boots. We knew to layer up and our parents would tie scarves around our faces so only our eyes peeked out. I actually do not remember school ever being cancelled because of cold, although I now think it is a better idea.

That brings me to the fun of listening to the radio to see if our schools were closed. Us kids waited with baited breath to hear the name of our school being announced on WCCO radio. We sometimes would have to wait hours to hear our name depending on the weather conditions. If school was going to be closed after it already started it would be announced on the radio. There were no texts or cell phones or machines set up to automatically alert the parents. I feel badly that today’s kids don’t know the anticipation of radio announcements.

Yes, things have changed. Mostly for the better with schools alerting parents by texts. But I do have to say we shouldn’t need to be told to use common sense when it comes to the cold. We maybe have lost a little of that in 2019.

I felt a little trepidation at the approaching cold weather warnings. I figured out it had to do with the media. What in the “olden days” we just accepted as part of life, now has the media blasting warnings so dire it scares even the hardy Minnesotans.

My weather alerts ding multiple times during the day. Weather alerts scroll the bottom of the screen constantly. The weathermen predict dire life threatening, as if the world is going to end, predictions. It puts us on edge. I think especially those younger who don’t know the old way of life. The news media is telling them they aren’t capable of rational thinking when it comes to the cold. Even a Florida news station told people to stay in when it was 50 degrees. Us Northerners had a good laugh at that.

So come to Minnesota today and tomorrow. Right now the sun is shining and it is a beautiful, cold crisp day. We should be careful. We should respect the cold but we should also enjoy the sun making the snow sparkle and see God’s work in the icicles which form a sculpture of their own.

It’s 9:55 as I write this and I am still in my pajama’s under blankets with a hot cup of coffee to start my day. I respect and pray for those who have to go out into the cold to keep our frozen world running when it comes to mail carriers, emergency personal and those whose jobs won’t give them a break today to stay in and be cozy. The world slows down on days like this in Minnesota. Don’t fight it. Wallow and enjoy.

Perception or Reality?

perceptionMy latest column from the Albert Lea Tribune on October 3, 2016

I found my summer clothes. The problem with finding my summer clothes is that I was looking for my winter clothes. Do I have you confused yet?

At some point in the last year I organized my closet and my clothes, and instead of leaving summer and winter clothes together in my drawers and my closet, I decided to change them out so I would have more room. I function very well when I am not organized. I forget where I put things when I organize. Remember the place for everything and everything in its place? When things are in place I forget where that place is.

This summer I was sure I had more summer clothes the year before. But, I did remember I gave some of my summer clothes away. Last fall I weeded out those clothes that did not fit and got rid of those I wasn’t in love with. When spring and summer came this year I had four pairs of jeans, a couple dresses, seven summer shirts and a pair of shorts and capris. I washed more than usual. And I must say I got along with those few pieces of clothing choices. I berated myself for giving away some of my favorite items of clothing. I didn’t think I would have done that, but, I could not find them.

Cool weather is settling in. The other day I had to dress up a bit and I shoved and pushed my meager assortment of clothes in my closet to find my fall and winter dress pants. I knew I had some because I just bought them last year. Again, I seem to remember in the spring I decided to organize. But I can’t remember where I put my winter clothes. And, that is how I found my summer clothes. Actually it was Natasha, my beautiful, furry kitty, that helped me find my clothes. She hid under the bed, and as I tried to get her out, low and behold there was a flat storage container slid far enough under the bed to the middle that you couldn’t see it. Maybe I should dust under the bed once in a while.

Excitement filled my veins when I saw the container. I knew I must have put my winter clothes in it. I am not an under-the-bed storage person but I think I recall listening to an organizer guru that said it was the perfect place for clothes. I pulled off the lid and there they were — my summer clothes. My feelings held a mixture of excitement that I found my favorite summer blouse, and a mixture of disappointment because I couldn’t wear my dress pants to church.

Though we welcome the change of seasons in nature, it is perhaps harder to welcome the change of seasons in our lives as we age. One of the things that happens with age besides our bodies changing, is the fact we have history to fall back on. With that history comes knowledge. It is that knowledge of what we have lived through that shapes the choices we make today and the viewpoints we have that affect what we do going forward into the future.

There is a quote about reality by Robert Bolono that states: “People see what they want to see and what people want to see never has anything to do with the truth.” Watching the presidential debate and seeing the comments afterward, I think that statement rings true. Each and every one of us has something we wish to happen for the future, and we back the candidate that we feel matches what we need, no matter what is proved to be false or wrong. We believe unscrupulous websites because they are telling us what we want to hear. And there is something in us at each season in our lives that tells us we can’t be wrong. We don’t want to admit our views could be skewed because what does that say about us?

After the debate there was one statement that people asked of their friends time and time again and that is, “Did we watch the same debate?”

Everyone has a different stake in this election. The younger generation is afraid for their future and the future of their children. They are worried about crime and terrorism and the economy. They want their children to be able to afford college and health care and to own their own home. This is their future. It is the season of their life where they want to grow and flourish.

As a senior citizen, we want to ensure our retirement and our health care. We want to ensure we will be able to afford to live, and one of the differences of us being in the autumn and winter of our lives, is the fact we remember what was, and we are having a hard time reconciling it with what is.

As I hunt for the past season’s change of clothes I hunt for the past seasons of my life and remember the race riots in the ’60s and ’70s. I remember my parents talking about Hitler and the war. I remember waiting for someone I love to come home from Vietnam. I remember the assassination of President John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr. But I also remember neighbors helping neighbors and people standing up against hate. I remember the kindness of strangers and the wisdom of many leaders from both parties. I remember the good and the bad.

It is no different today. We believe what we perceive to be our reality. It is neither right nor wrong because we live the seasons of our lives. Our perception will influence our votes and therein lies what kind of truth we see.

My truth: I am better in creative chaos in my house than organized neatness. That is my perception of my reality.