A Merry Heart

Merry Heart
February 4, 2019

I’m going to BLOW YOUR MIND…ready for it? I’m NOT going to write about the cold weather, North Dakota winters, or the Japanese Cherry Blossom Festival!

Determined not be predictable or take the easy way out by writing what is on everyone’s mind: THE RIDICULOUSLY COLD WEATHER, I tapped my computer pen on my chin and began to muse, “what to write…what to write…” I needed inspiration.

Okay! Got an idea that just might pan out. My enthusiasm spurred some quick “free-writing!” When I had filled half of a page, I read it back to myself prepared for some healthy chuckling…yeah…that wasn’t happening. I couldn’t wad up my digital paper and toss it in the garbage, and not wanting to throw away the couple of good ideas floating in all the “trash,” I renamed the file, “Humor” (a generous title I will concede) and filed it away in a folder never to be accessed again. After repeating the exercise a couple more times, I abandoned the free-writing and started to read over old articles to find something to inspire me. I got a third of the way through an article and found myself in hysterics until I realized I was reading Cindy’s Column.

Okay…I’m not going to write about the Japanese Cherry Blossom Festival, but I AM going to be predictable and take the easy way out! If the following article sounds familiar…it’s your imagination, cuz I didn’t already write it in February, 2004.

* * * * *

I clicked off the radio with ill humor. “Thirty-five below Zero and still dropping! Accumulated snow expected to reach 10 inches,” recited the cheerful, masculine voice. I hated him; without even meeting him, I despised the man.


“Who said life was fair?” Was the clichéd, rhetorical response from my patient, rational husband in the most understanding, annoying tone.

“BEAVER CLEAVER in episode 8!” I left off the “MORON” part, out of respect for my “head” and all that…

“Think of our missionaries; the Smiths in Estonia, the Brauers in The Pas, Manitoba. I think they are much colder, but are suffering quietly and patiently,” scolded my husband gently.

“I’m less cold because they didn’t get called to the Bahamas??” I countered logically…shrilly. I left off trying to convince my “wise” husband and engage in something more practical. I quickly jotted a quick note to my congressman and ranted about the weather in HIS district for 5 paragraphs, only feeling marginally better, as I licked the stamp.

As I was fighting back my bad temper, I was just thankful I didn’t have an enthusiastic 10-year-old running through the house expounding the positive attributes of snow. I drifted off somewhere, remembering the days when my young sons would wake up to fresh, white sparkling snow, jump out of bed, and amidst flying scarves, boots and snow-pants, chatter with the anticipation of snow forts that would rise to the clouds in their imaginative minds, resembling military citadels, kings’ palaces or medieval fortresses. I remembered the days when buttons, carrots, mittens and scarves were gathered to adorn the newest, frosty family member…WELL, THOSE DAYS WERE GONE, BUSTER!

I sunk back into despondency, envisioning snowmen as the enemy…parades of ruthless, sinister, frozen beings, all armed with rock-loaded snowballs ready to attack John Deere, with non-violent snow-women carrying picket signs in front of any house or business using a snow-blower. I could imagine the headlines the next day, “City annihilated by diabolical round icy creatures with cute, button noses.”
My husband’s voice from the other room broke me from my reverie, “Hey, honey! The paper says it’s supposed to be up to 2 degrees by Monday…” Woohoo…it’ll be above zero; break out the t-shirts! His announcement did nothing to appease me.

My husband came out of the kitchen with his soft-sided briefcase and headed for work, out into snowflakes the size of a dinner plate, spouting platitudes: “Your day will be what you make it. Circumstances can’t get you down unless you allow them to.”

The phone rang. Shutting the door on, “When life hands you lemons…,” I picked up the phone, then slammed it down. It was my mother, and I happened to know it was above freezing in Kentucky where she lives.

With my husband off to work and the phone lying quiet, I was left to myself to face 3000 degrees below zero weather and 70 feet of snow. I decided to try out my husband’s advice, so I finished up my tasks hurriedly. As the plan formed in my mind, I got excited; my moods even brightening. I finished up the last chore and started a fire, brought out a good book I had been waiting to read and ran to the kitchen to grab my stash of…AAAAHHHHHHHHHH THEY WERE GONE!! My M&M’s were missing!! The thoughts of a nice warm fire and a good book were dismal without my M&M’s. It had been 2 months since I had savored the delectable confection. This was the crux of my whole, stupid, better attitude program thing!

I would just have to run to the store! I peered out the window and realized there was no way I was going to make it to the store without shoveling myself back to civilization. So much snow had fallen that it appeared to be an impossible task. As I was ruminating over my dilemma, thinking of ways to tackle the problem, I found myself throwing them out one by one; the dog can’t shovel, the blow-dryer didn’t have sufficient wattage to handle such a monumental job. I could throw the dining room table out the door and light it on fire…nah…no marshmallows… My frozen brain threw out a lucid moment: NEIGHBOR BOYS. I immediately got on the phone.

LAZY KIDS THESE DAYS…out sledding all day…do they KNOW what happens to kids who sled too much…1 out of every 3 ends up digging ditches as an adult. Despite my made-up statistics, the parents couldn’t be moved.

Well? There was no avoiding it. I bundled up; it was exhausting. I stepped outside and after 3 minutes shoveling, I decided Swiss Miss would have to fulfill my dietary chocolate needs as I read my book.

I walked back into the house and couldn’t see in the closet to hang up my coat. Then the hideous truth came to light…well, dark. The electricity was out. NO HOT CHOCOLATE!! To make matters worse, my fire had gone out, and my book was nowhere to be found!
Some time later, my husband came home to find me curled up on the couch under a quilt, reading the Bed, Bath & Beyond catalog and munching a dried brick of Ramen Noodles.

I was ready. Under the covers, in an ice chest, at the foot of the sofa, was one of those rock-loaded snowballs, and at the first sign of a platitude or cheery thought, he’d be sporting a frozen welt.