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Others, too, have shivered the assaults of stinging winds, frostbite, and heaving lungs splicing their innards. Others have stomped feet upon icy roads, flailed their arms about them, packed rags in their gloves, and looked into the morning sky gyrating with snow-sworls. Would it ever be warm again?

How did they cope?

For some, it was music. Fortunately for us, Byron Arnold, music professor at the University of Alabama – Tuscaloosa, published An Alabama Songbook: Ballads, Folksongs, and Spirituals (1950), the culmination of decades’ work of traipsing across the state with a heavy recorder and visiting the old, the blind, the invalid, the young—those with long memories. His efforts resulted in the collection of over 500 songs; among them was the reel, Cold Frosty Morning (p. 116) that dated back to the Civil War.

Whoever composed this three-minute interlude must have known the bite of winter; its terrible beauty opens the psyche to the profundity of death-into-life; its soaring cadences express the unutterable.

 

Multiple instrumental versions of Cold Frosty Morning can be found on YouTube. One by Douglas Jimerson features sepia photos of Confederate troops on maneuvers.

 

 

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Walking in my favorite garden alleviates winter’s grief.

Morning sun toasts bracing air. Subtle winds swipe bronze mobiles. Sand patterns swirl around clusters of browning azaleas. Tinsel-thin-ice-patches atop the pond  morph into shimmering waters. Rushing streams tumble upon stacks of rock. Skeletal trees reverence decades of endurance. Candelabra-arms of beech trees hover over spent grasses. Stands of vibrant green bamboo glisten in the sun. A two-sided bamboo shelter interfaces outer and inner worlds. A flock of sheep, motionless these many winters, still head northwest.

Yes, I am meandering around the Missouri Botanical Garden, a place of stillness and joy, but any garden will do.

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Ten minutes from home. Roiling clouds obscure the afternoon sun. A breeze from the south assuages the nape of my neck, sticky with perspiration. Mist befogs my glasses, moistens my cheeks.

In a split second irritation is transmuted into acceptance.

At my feet, rain polka-dots the sidewalk, then bleeds them together. My crocs splash between sheltering trees offering brief respite: the maple, the sycamore, the oak. Then out into the open, the last stretch of my walk. My scalp tingles, my chin drips, my shoulders breathe, my shirt clings to my back. I laugh.

Later, I’m reminded of the saying of singer-song writer, Roger Miller: “Some people feel the rain. Others just get wet.”

Is this not also how grace works in our psyches? Always proffered, but sometimes obscured through distractions?

 

 

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