Monday, December 22, 2008

Winter Solstice 2008 in Toledo

Entry for 21/22 December 2008:

We arrived in Toledo without delay or mishap, which is always a relief; however, the weather has been formidable. Two days earlier, Toledo got 6 inches of snow, followed by freezing rain, so the roads and our driveway were a mess. After a quick bite at our favorite Chinese restaurant, we went home and crashed.

Officially, the winter solstice occurred about 7am the next morning. with a bit more than 9 hours of daylight Toledo, compared with 7 hours in Glasgow. We woke up to the howling wind. Winter had arrived. Or rather winter was here already, and we had arrived in Winter. By nightfall, the temperature had fallen to around 0 degrees Fahrenheit. None of your wimpy 0 Celsius; this was the real 0, bitterly cold, -18 degrees Celsius, with the icy wind gusting at 30 mph (50 kph), bringing the wind chill at times down to –25 degrees F (-32 C). It cut through my medium-weight coat like a knife. After two and half years of living in the temperate, Gulf-stream-warmed Scottish lowlands, we’ve lost our Midwestern winter conditioning, and I had neglected to take my serious winter coat out of deep storage.

Not without reason does “Glasgow” mean “dear green place”; but the American Midwest in the throes of winter is neither green nor dear. Instead, like C.S. Lewis’ Aslan, it is “not a tame beast” but is instead full of intense majesty: ice flung by the wind to rattle ominously against our bedroom windows; our car spinning out on the ice in a back street in our neighborhood so that we almost rang into a large tree (saved by bank of frozen snow!); snow blowing desolately across the highway as we drove to Cleveland to pick up Kenneth; and along the way sun glinting magically off the trees, still covered with ice from the earlier freezing rain. Kenneth went out to meet us as we arrived, huddled against the blast in his coat, the last person left in his dorm, waiting for his parents' return. It was so good to see him; he chattered at us all the way back to Toledo.

So we are in Winter now, but the snow and longer daylight makes everything feel lighter, less dark and heavy. I woke earlier again today (Monday), my head full of things to write about. It is lovely to be here in our other home, listenign to the wind blow outside, Kenneth sleeping next door in his old room, with Christmas once again almost upon us.

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