Last year in January an ice storm struck. Tree branches were sheathed in shiny-smooth frozen tubes, brilliant crystal in the cold sunshine once the freezing rain had passed. Weeping willows flattened under the weight. Rigid limbs drooped, broke, and fell. The Boy Scout camping trip began Friday night as planned (though I took advantage of an excuse --- power outage! --- and drove home instead of shivering in my sleeping bag). That first evening icy boughs plummeted like random daggers, and everyone had to move into a lodge for safety. The kids (and a few doughty fathers, not including me) did get to spend Saturday night in their tents.
On Sunday morning I rejoined the group at 9 a.m. The breakfast fire was burning well, the sun was shining, and the campers were proud of their survival. The Scoutmaster cleared his throat and asked the boys to name some of the ways in which they were fortunate --- and to think about other people in the world who were less lucky. Kids around the circle in turn mentioned food, shelter, family, friends ... a quiet, thought-provoking minute of meditation.
A different show-must-go-on event came later that frigid weekend. Musician/teacher/friend Gina had long before scheduled a recital in her home for ten of her young piano students. Our family was invited. When we got to the house in late afternoon, however, there was still no electricity and Gina was in a panic! Fortunately, we had brought flashlights. As each child played one of us stood behind, shining a beam onto the sheet music. Notes echoed through the dark room with power and beauty rare at a student recital.
After the music ended and the parents left we sat in front of the fireplace with Gina's mother-in-law, Nancy. She was born in Scotland in 1915, but moved to Italy when five years old and there survived World War II. She told us about the tough times, the soldiers, the games, the fears, and the sharing that went on. We poked at the fire and listened.
Sunday, May 07, 2000 at 20:14:50 (EDT) = Datetag20000507