After a day of highs in the low 70s nearly all the snow is gone and it felt for the first time like spring yesterday --- and it felt slightly wrong; as if the apocalypse were near. Not that it wasn't appreciated. But it's only mid-February after all.
Ice has receded from the shoreline at the marsh and is softening farther out; elsewhere, it's breaking up on the bigger rivers, causing jams and occasional flooding (George Flagg Parkway in Des Moines was closed for a time yesterday in fear a jam on the Raccoon would send the water up and over rapidly).
But it's good to be out again, even with wet feet and mud. Cooped up inside, I start taking myself and a whole bunch of other stuff way too seriously. A long walk is a good reminder that I'm not a centerpiece of the universe, nor among its crowning achievement --- just an element, significant for the most part because of the potential us pesky humans have to damage creation and our fellow critters.
I like the rhythm of the seasons, or wouldn't live here. And the rhythm of the liturgical year, too. Easter is extremely late this year, on April 24 --- one day short of the latest date upon which it can occur.
That's probably a good thing from a practical point of view. We'll be serving a Shrove Tuesday (March 8) pancake supper as a benefit for the local food bank and that takes a certain amount of doing.
Providentially, Hy-Vee had a two-day special last weekend on link sausage --- $1 a crack for boxes of 12 (limit 10 boxes). So we all went to the grocery store (in truth, some went twice) and now the freezers are full. If there's a blizzard on the 8th --- we'll be eating sausage for a good long time.
And then there was the game night in the parish hall last evening --- something we do occasionally. Pick an evening when some other group isn't using hall, then get together with popcorn and hot chocolate to play table games.
Isn't it amazing that we can still amuse ourselves without television, the Internet and other technological advances? The only part of this that seems unfair to me is that Marian, at 90 our oldest parishioner, always wins. Marian is a saint --- really, a genuine saint; you should meet her --- but if she'd taken up poker rather than other callings, she'd be a millionaire by now.
The lectionary readings recently have brought us face to face again on Sunday mornings and at other times with those most inconvenient words from the Gospel according to St. Matthew --- a little something call the Sermon on the Mount.
Consider the total wrong-headed impracticality of this for example: "You have heard that it was said, `You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers and sisters, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect."
Jesus Christ! Who does he think He is?
I've spent two days in what I call the "hell hole," a storage closet under the back stairs of the LCHS Stephens House, and have the dust-fueled sneezes and sniffles to prove it. Decades of troublesome documents, books and ephemera that are impractical to display or too delicate to be handled on a regular bases have been stored here.
I'm trying to sort out everything other that the thousands and thousands of documents related to our rural schools before consolidation and move this stuff into the main museum building where it can be made more accessible.
Fascinating things turn up --- the blueprints for Russell's Woodman house, Woodman store and First Baptist Church, for example (extremely delicate, worn and torn by up to a century of use) in one instance; justice of the peace records from Liberty Township commencing in the mid-1850s and continuing into the 1880 --- similarly fragile --- for another.
"Turn up" is a little misleading. All of these items have been accessioned and catalogued --- just inaccessible under the back staircase.
And I've got to get back to the museum this morning and back to work. I purposely waited to tackle it until the curator went away for a week --- not wanting to cause her undue distress. But she will be distressed and the cleaning lady will have my head unless I deal with those piles now scattered all over the back parlor and dining room floors before Monday.