As I write this post, in the aftermath of the biggest snowstorm to hit the Twin Cities in several years, I keep returning to the idea of gratitude.
Let me back up. On Monday, my fellow Minnesotans and I geared up for a nasty snowstorm. When we woke on Monday morning, it really hadn’t hit the Twin Cities metro area yet. The predictions were uncertain, as predictions tend to be, because of a number of factors with this storm’s track. We might get a couple of inches, maybe even 6-8. The flakes started falling mid-morning around here. Schools started closing early here and there, but not all the area schools did so. Things didn’t start looking really bad until the afternoon, when the storm seemed to just put its big white feet up directly over us, and drop whatever it was carrying. Roads deteriorated quickly as the wind picked up. The snow came fast and it was timed just right to muck up the end of everyone’s work and school day.
The road conditions were the worst we had seen in a long time. Pieces of the Interstate looked like practice parking lots, ramps were shut down in places where there were accidents, cars kept getting stuck beyond hope. My son got stuck somewhere in Eden Prairie, had to call his father-in-law to tow him out with his pickup truck. My daughter, working at the new Great Wolf Lodge near the Mall of America, ended up spending the night there along with a whole bunch of other staff. My partner, Mick, works only two miles from our house, and made it home on side roads with his all-wheel-drive.
When everyone was safe and off the road, I felt my first wave of gratitude.
We got nearly a foot of snow at our house. Our snowblower, a seldom-used piece of equipment, had to be called into service. Mick plugged it in, waited a bit, failed to get it to start. We kept it plugged in, waited another 40 minutes, and then it started. There was my second wave of gratitude, for this machine that would spare us much manual labor, sore muscles, and maybe a heart attack given that this was heavy snow.
Our current houseguest, Felipe, is from Brazil. When we fired up the snowblower, he said, “Can I do that? I’ve never done that before.” It is kind of a fun thing to do, so Mick handed off the snowblower and off Felipe went down our driveway. He cleared the whole thing, laughing at how he himself got covered in snow. I took pictures of him in the driveway, a plume of snow spitting off to the side, for his wife and kids back in Brasilia. And there came my third wave of gratitude that we have such a thing as a guest room and know so many people who come to stay with us when they need a place even in the middle of winter.
Later in the evening, I stood in the kitchen cooking up some spaghetti and red sauce, a new recipe for me (see link below) for which I just happened to have all the ingredients. It turned out wonderfully, from the moment I sautéed grated onion in butter with oregano and salt to get the sauce started, to adding some garlic, then crushed tomatoes, then olive oil and basil. Our kitchen smelled heavenly. We cracked open a bottle of wine, apologized to Felipe that we weren’t able to take him out to an Indian restaurant as we had planned. All three of us loved the spaghetti and there was my fourth wave of gratitude, for this kitchen that has enough food in it to change plans when a snowstorm comes through.
On Tuesday morning, when the sun hit the trees in the back yard, I felt it again: an enormous sense of thankfulness, this time for the beauty that follows a storm, for the bright white world that seemed to apologize for all the difficulty with this vision of winter’s gifts. And I wondered how it would be to live without this presence of gratitude that doesn’t cost me anything, but certainly makes my life richer.
Rich enough, in fact, to share whenever, however I can.
all photos by kcmickelson 2018