Cold Front by Scott Turner
Audio version <a href="http://ripr.org/post/cold-front" target="_blank">www.ripr.org</a>
If a cold front ever ushered in the feeling of a fresh start, it was the one that pushed Hurricane Earl east overnight Sept. 4th.
Just after dawn, I walked with Woody, our dog, into a nippy, northwest wind that transported wet leaves down the street in our Providence neighborhood.
There, we all met the day’s first rays of sunlight, which burned through low milky clouds that trailed the storm.
Gone was the heat and humidity that had wrapped us like a lead blanket most of the summer.
Cobwebs slipped from my brain, telling my limbs to “shake it loose.” So I stretched my arms skyward.
What a cap to a wild week. School had begun for Karen, a first-grade teacher, for Rachel, now in eighth grade, and for Noah in fifth. At my job, I wrapped up a nine-month project.
Then, our kitchen ceiling came down after leaky pipes under the second-floor bathroom weakened 4,000 pounds of material.
For now, we will use the closet-sized bathroom and shower stall on the first floor.
Anyway, having two bathrooms was a luxury. Heck, more than 40 percent of the world’s population lives without access to any toilet!
Back in the house, I opened every window downstairs. The cold front flushed the rooms with fresh air.
My actions disturbed a Carolina wren outside. The bird shot out a Rose of Sharon and into a cavern of sticks in a backyard woodpile.
When the wren popped back out, it hopped atop the pile, flicked its tail, spun around, chipped, squawked and jibber jabbered like a windup toy on caffeine.
Above the wren, a squirrel, with a mouth full of leaves, climbed up the maple tree. I figured the squirrel was on its way to fortify the family nest. Winter was coming, I remembered.
Cool air levitated the curtains of every open window in our home.
Inhaling this freshness expanded my lungs and my world. It suggested that our existence was about making our hearts and minds roomier for those we loved.
The wren was like sugar in my coffee--adding sweetness to life.
After slogging through the sweltering past few months, I believe that the cold front was like the kind of do-over that we used to ask for as kids. I felt unharnessed, as if being given another chance to get things right.
That night, Karen and I sipped honey vodka, a homemade gift from a friend. This syrupy, soul-warming drink was a real nectar of the Gods.
The vodka sharpened our awareness and our joy. I also believe that it fueled the discussions we needed to have—about repairing our home and our lives in the coming weeks.