The temperatures have plundered into un-Godly realms. Ears and veins are frozen and pierced by whips of wintry wind.
I hold no love for winter’s trespass into this world.
I saw an old man walking the streets of Ringgold, a faded green backpack slung across his shoulders. The lines on his face testified to many harsh travels, and the ache painted in his eyes made clear he knew no path home, at least not one where somebody cared.
Whether he was of the homeless army or not I did not know, but I knew he carried a deep loneliness and Old Man Winter had no compassion or empathy as he attempted to murder this old man from the outside in.
A homeless man died last week in Chattanooga from stabbings of bitter cold. I watched the TV news interviews and the people who said they were sad at his passing from this world.
They said, “I asked him if he had blankets.”
But blankets are little match for the winter’s wrath that has come before the calendar said it could.
He has come and he has brought with him not only the power of frostbite and death but car problems and a leeching of vitality. He has killed batteries and cracked hoses.
He has burst water pipes and raped the grass and trees, even as he has the arctic audacity to carry an infectious depression in his boughs.
Do not despair completely, for hope can be found in small doses from December to March.
Christmas works so well under winter’s rule. It gives us a spike of joy in an otherwise overpoweringly harsh and desolate environment and forces us to come together within our shelters.
Christmas gives us a bonding of family, friends and strangers to stoke the fires of love and compassion, thereby helping us to forget that the weather is our sworn enemy.
I despise winter but there is also something to be said for two souls submerged in thick blankets and a blending of warm skin. There is something to be said for having someone to hold, someone to entwine fingers and hearts, knowing that the evil is out there, just beyond the sliding glass door but unable to touch you.
He is lurking, but as long as there are methods to control him, he cannot lay an ice-tipped fingernail upon your open throat. So I laugh at him and revel in my sanctuary.
But he knows the painful truth that I push from my mind; eventually I will have to leave the sanctuary, and he will rip at me if only for a moment as I struggle with the metal that is my car door.
“Yes, you can hide for a while,” he says, “but I will have my way.”
Perhaps the death and discomfort winter so readily represents is a necessary evil to be tolerated because of the deeper appreciation it instills for its sister seasons.
For in those barren months the heart will sink deeper into a glacial coma only to be reborn with a magnified delight as the lilies bloom and spring banishes the heathen son back to Antarctica or the northern reaches of Canada.
I hope against hope that winter will die one day at the hands of global warming and hairspray cans and never return, but he always comes back like a hungry wolf to a bloody carcass.
To tell the truth, I know not where he goes or what he does when he leaves, nor do I care as long as he is alone and hurting like the old man who wanders the streets during winter’s reign.Kevin Cummings is an amateur poet, songwriter, short story author and 2004 Georgia Press Association humorous column award winner. He is a staff writer for The Catoosa County News and Fort Oglethorpe Press. For questions or comments contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.