Thursday, November 28, 2013


Weather-wise, it is a perfect Thanksgiving morning: sunny and calm with a few patchy clouds and an expected high temperature of about 50o.  

In stark contrast, I can still vividly recall the Thanksgiving of 2010. An arctic cold front blasted through Provo-Orem with temperatures in the single digits and a deadly wind chill factor. That weekend, a big snow storm dropped at least 6 inches of snow on us. (Shudder!) And, while the 2010 Thanksgiving weather was not “typical” for Provo-Orem, neither is today’s weather typical. This is probably the best Thanksgiving Day weather since we’ve moved here. I think it even rivals the lovely November weather we experienced in Albuquerque from 1993 to 1999.

The weather, of course, is merely the back-drop – albeit, a splendid, spectacular back-drop! The major focal point, however, of what will be perfect about today is the family gathering at Dara’s house. About half of our children and grandchildren will share one another’s boisterous company and a potluck feast during one raucous, breath-taking, whirlwind celebration in the afternoon. (Dara is such a good sport – and gracious hostess – to share her spacious home that can accommodate a crowd of 20 that seems more like a crowd of 40!)

Abraham Lincoln issued his proclamation of a national “day of Thanksgiving and Praise” 150 years ago, on October 3 1863. The call to recognize God’s blessings came even amidst the sorrows and devastations of the ongoing Civil War. It is a perennial human irony that we often do not recognize God’s many blessings in our times of prosperity. Then again, in times of sorrow and trial, it is also so human a tendency to “charge God foolishly” rather than to remain faithful like Job. Therefore, because of our human weaknesses and failings, we need this special day of Thanksgiving and Praise to remember our beneficent Father, and the debt we owe to God and to so many others.
I am deeply grateful for family and friends, and God's many blessings.
 Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Winter in Utah

I have a small Holmes space heater that I have been using for the past couple of weeks while I am at my computer desk. It’s purpose is to keep my feet and legs warm. Meanwhile, while it is ostensibly warming up my cold feet and legs, my upper half is often too warm. Goofy body.
Feeling over-cooked on the top today made me remember being a kid on our Minnesota farm.  During the winter, the old fashioned wood burning cook stove in the kitchen produced enormous heat. I loved to sit on a chair near  the back of the stove, soaking up the Kelvins.

Between the ages of 8 and 21, I lived through 13 brutal Minnesota winters. Mercifully, temperatures below  -40oF [40 degrees below zero] ]were only an occasional and not an every day occurrence. However, in my estimation, any temperature or windchill factor below 0oF was, by definition, brutal. And potentially deadly. And that describes most Minnesota winter days.

As a matter of fact, I personally dealt with my own first degree frostbite symptoms throughout the duration of each Minnesota winter: itching and painful toes, fingers, thighs and buttocks.  Sometimes I scratched the affected areas until they bled. I remember many occasions when I immersed my frozen hands into cool water that felt like it was boiling hot. And this in spite of my best efforts to dress warmly—I  was not like some of today’s young people who insist on wearing shorts and sandals year round even during a blizzard—but somehow whatever I wore was never sufficient.

Consequently, at the end of each brutal wintry day, as I roasted slowly next to the great cook stove, I often thought of the Robert Service poem, “The Cremation of Sam McGee.” At the end of the poem, the corpse of Sam McGee is smiling in the midst of the cremation flames, and says, “Since I left Plumtree, down in Tennessee, it's the first time I've been warm!” I felt great empathy for Sam.

Of course, I no longer live in Minnesota—nor even in Indiana, for that matter (I also spent 8 semi-brutal winters in Indiana).

Now I live in Utah. Here, our license plates proclaim, “Greatest Snow on Earth.” In the recent past, it has even been possible to go snow skiing in the mountains on the 4th of July! However, Utah winters (in general) could hardly be characterized as brutal.

Winter temperatures at our house (in Provo-Orem) during the past dozen years have not once reached brutal (0oF).  Therefore, in my estimation, as long as this trend continues, there is no justification for complaining about Utah winters.

So, hush! 
If things change, there’s always St. George! (And space heaters.)