• Bill Stauffer

Gratitude Friday 2-5-21 The “Big Snow” of 2021


“Life isn't about waiting for the storm to pass...It's about learning to dance in the rain.” ― Vivian Greene


I have a confession to make. I like big storms. There are a lot of reasons for it I suppose. A significant rain or snowstorm is a reminder of the power of nature and these huge forces in our world well beyond our control. Watching the barometer fall, making sure we have enough food and preparing for what is coming at us is part of the process. There is a sense of anticipation in the air that is almost electric. We are forced to adapt to what nature has in store for us.


This storm was a significant one, spanning three days. A few years back they started naming storms, this one was given the moniker “Winter Storm Orlena.” It deposited 28 inches here in eastern Pennsylvania before it ended. I am an early bird. There was a moment around 4 AM on day two when it was sleeting as hard as I had ever experienced. I sat by the window with my fresh cup of warm coffee and took a moment to take the sound in and to watch it bounce off the windows like tiny bits of crystal.


As the storm gained momentum there was a stunning beauty to the falling snow. Julie and I sat in

the warmth of our home and watched it pile up outside the windows. I was filled with a sense of tranquility. As it accumulated, sound changed, things became muted and there was a peaceful sense in the air. It built up on the trees and individual branches became more visible, covered with whiteness and in stark relief against the gray skies of the storm. I went outside and the air had a heavier feel to it like a comforting blanket.


I usually find some excuse to go out during a storm, this time I was in luck. At the height of the storm, I trudged down to the corner store to pick up some items so Julie could make a special meat pie. They had some generic cheese, a small jar of gravy and some half and half needed for the recipe. I felt like a lottery winner walking home in the center of the deserted street as the wind howled and the snow swirled around me.


That evening, we curled up by a crackling fire with our dogs and took it all in. The meat pie was spectacular, we were safe, fed and warm as the storm raged outside. Muted sounds of activity occasionally could be heard, we went to sleep with anticipation of final accumulations with the wind rattling the windows and the distant sound of snowplows, a reminder that people were working extremely hard to keep our world open.


Once it ended, the world was bright and clean, covered in white. Shoveling out walkways and a car is a bit more of a hardship than when I was young man, but I am still up to the challenge. Once the car was unstuck, I took it for a spin around the neighborhood and “tested out the traction control,” yes, I still have a twenty-year-old trapped in this 55-year-old frame.


Beyond these facets are some basics. We have a home, food and a car to dig out, none of which are a given in this unpredictable world. As a person in recovery, I am ever reminded how fortunate I am that this was my path. This last year has been one filled with uncertainty and opportunity. There was a combination of extremely hard work and a spot of luck. I made it through some very uncertain times. The experience keeps things in perspective. There is not a day that goes by that I do not think about the hardships people are experiencing right now. We have an opportunity to come together, similar to when everyone pitches in to dig out of a big snow and check on an older neighbor. We should be figuring out how to lift up those who are struggling with grief, loss, and economic hardship as an even larger storm rages around us.


We all remember these moments in time. Years from now, people will talk about the big storm of 2021. Usually, we recall how we came together and helped each other get through it together. I hope that this is also how we remember the pandemic. How we all made do and tried to figure out how to help each other through. Despite all the news to the contrary, I suspect that this is the real narrative happening in communities across America.


Grateful for the big snow of 2021 and the reminder that we have the potential to be at our best when faced with circumstances beyond our control. We must adapt to it and rise to the opportunity we have been given to come together and weather the storm. I see the parallel between the storm and the pandemic and the reality that what we will be left with is the accounting of how we pitched in to dig out. The survivors of the Blitz during WWII in London spoke about how they huddled in the underground subways as bombs rained down over their heads and yet in the end, prevailed. Hardships brought them together in their collective humanity. I hope we will experience that too.


I am grateful for my shovel and the ability to adapt to storms. What are you grateful for today?

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