Coping with the Cold —by Jinny Batterson
If we live in northern latitudes, by now we’ve likely experienced some chilly weather, even if the calendar does not yet officially signal “winter.” How to cope? Consider our animal natures, and choose a strategy:
1) Migrate (like wild geese)
2) Hibernate (like black bears)
3) Congregate (like emperor penguins)
This winter, I expect to employ all three strategies at different times—
heading to parts of Florida, becoming a human “snow bird” at a beach full of sun-seeking Northerners;
deciding a snow day is a good day to snuggle under as many blankets and quilts as I can pile onto the bed and there’s really no need to get up;
gathering with friends and festive libations for New Years (both Western and Eastern).
What’s your favorite winter coping style?
Not-so-Wild Geese by Jinny Batterson (with profuse apologies to Mary Oliver)
(This parody of one of Mary Oliver’s best-loved poems was inspired partly by the chance to view a wedge of still-migratory wild geese flying south just before sunset while we visited with friends in the mountains of western Pennsylvania. Mostly, though, it was inspired by increasing flocks of their now-more-sedentary cousins, who’ve settled in all along the U.S. eastern flyway, waddling and flying around man-made lakes and golf courses and suburban lawns, spreading tons of feathers and feces along with their still-haunting cries.)
You do not have to buy the latest gadget,
You do not have to drive your outsized SUV
Across expanses of previously untrammeled ground.
You only have to let the hard automaton of your body
relax again into love.
Remind me, again, of your earliest dreams, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world spins on.
Meanwhile the sun is often occluded, the rain acid and dirty
as it scours a landscape denuded of trees,
silts in the rivers and makes dead zones in seas.
Meanwhile the not-so-wild geese, hissing and pooping
on suburban lawns, stake their claims to home.
Whoever you are, no matter how insulated,
The geese honk their way into your imagination,
Calling to you like demented cell phones, shrill and disturbing–
over and over reminding you that you are not the only
species in the world’s family.