It was a simple request, but her unembellished words made the hairs on the back of my arms line up in militant fashion, immediately creating a unified front against the bitter elements howling at the windows.
“Ya wanna walk with me to get the mail?”
Two of my daughters, this one included, have an unusually high internal body thermostat. And even in the coldest recorded New England winter in 137 years, she often chooses to wear a t-shirt around the house. Today’s was one of her favorite. One she tie-dyed last fall. A t-shirt that boasts “Parent’s Weekend 2014” alongside her big sister’s college logo, under the streaks of color she had squeezed on herself.
Mind you, our 215-year old farmhouse is far from efficient, and our single-income-family budget is nothing more than meager. So our thermostat control straddles moderately cool temperatures, and I tend to wear two, if not three, layers when I’m tucked away for a winter’s day behind our beautiful but oh-so-inefficient wavy, handblown panes of glass in our little Cape tucked up on the bank of the river.
The thought of braving the wind that howled like an angry, cold-blooded dragon, about to unveil itself rising up over the river bank, gave me pause. I should explain that in the suburbia where I grew up, getting mail was an easy feat. A mere dozen steps or so from the front door. But today our box on our rural route requires a nice jaunt, down the drive, around the bend, and beside the lake.
So I donned a few more layers and, with silent begrudging, joined my youngest on her cold trek for junk mail.
Noticing a large puddled area of melted ice that revealed black coldness in the center of the narrow neck of the lake, she discussed her doubt that we would ever again swim in the lake waters that stretch up to the base of our property.
Surely, she mused and jest, it would never again be warm enough to sit at its edge and sift coarse sand through our fingers.
I joined in her jesting and began to rant about green. I noted that I wasn’t sure I remembered what grass truly looked like. Would we really in just brief weeks see summer insects and August frogs?
Then it happened. I noticed the beauty right where I was. My complaining was silenced, and I was thankful.
She was too.
We saw the beauty in the purity.
We walked home in silence, she with junk mail tucked inside the belly of her Dad’s coat that she was wearing. And I listening to the cold-blooded dragon’s breathy wailings dying down just a little.
Wash me, and I will be whiter than snow… Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Psalm 51:7-10