Oh baby, it's cold out there. There is a distinct chill in the air, the leaves are starting to change. I feel old man winter pushing his way in.
I woke up this morning feeling as if there were frost on my pillow. It took a while, but I finally convinced my foot to leave the covers, then the rest of me had to follow. I stumbled my way down the stairs, heading for caffeine and heat. Passing the thermostat, I flipped the switch to on, and heard the rumbling begin in the basement as I pressed start on the microwave. Now I'm snuggled under a blankie, feeling the house warm my outsides and my tea warm my insides.
I remember waking on cold, cold mornings in my grandparent's farmhouse. There really was frost on the windows on those morning. I was never sure what woke me- if it was the feeling of my body convulsing with shivers or the sound of my grandpa stirring in the room across the hall. I would lay as still as I could, trying not to shake the bed, knowing that I would soon hear his feet stomping down the stairs. Slam- the back kitchen door. Bang- the trap door on the porch that led to the basement. Next came the sound of the shovel hitting the coal and the rattle of the coal hitting the furnace. The distinctive smell came next. How I loved that smell, for it announced the arrival of blessed warmth. I was asleep again within minutes, warm, toasty and safe. Grandpa made his way from there out to the barn to milk and feed.
I wonder how many times he performed that same ritual. He came in from the barn one morning in his eighth decade, curled up beside the register to soak in some of that warmth, fell asleep and never woke. He departed from this earth in the same house that welcomed his birth.
I stopped at calling hours last night for a lovely 94 year old from our church.. I have never seen this woman without a smile and a kind word. She volunteered faithfully at the hospital- yes, even this year. One day this week, she got her hair done, made a pot of soup and went out to rake leaves and clean up the yard. When she came in, she sat down in her chair, fell asleep and woke in heaven.
It seems to me that these are the folks who keep the world on it's axis. The people who live their lives simply, who watch out for their friends and neighbors, who are always quick to lend a kind word or a helping hand. We don't think much about them, but they surely leave a void when they are gone.
I know that there are plenty of those people around me. People that are living their lives simply and well. I think I'll aim to pay a little more attention, to appreciate them a little more while we have them. The world can be a cold and lonely place- here's to those who warm it everyday.