Several weeks before the cold weather descended upon Michigan, there were signs of preparations being made. Squirrels scurried around the neighborhood, stockpiling seeds from pine cones and whatever else they could find. Their red, black and brown fur coats seemed thick and warm, adequate protection against frost and snow.
The little chipmunks so prevalent during the summer disappeared, presumably in their holes underground. Except for an occasional cardinal or a small sparrow, all of our ‘fine-feathered’ friends had departed for warmer regions. It seemed unusually quiet without the sounds of their chirping.
People also began getting ready, with snow blowers on hand or arranging for snow removal services. Cars had to be checked. Was the battery in good shape? Tires adequate for icy roads? All kinds of winter gear was available in the store, everything needed to keep one warm from head to toe.
Al and I joined in with the preparations, making some improvements to our approximately seventy year old house. Drafty areas had to be plugged up in kitchen windows and holes around pipes under kitchen counters. Weather stripping was added on the top of the door connecting the chilly sun room where the dogs sleep to the dining room area. After attaching a new mail box to the house, the original mail slot in the front door was glued shut, helping to keep the warm air inside the house.
The gas furnace in the basement seemed to be in pretty good shape other than making loud groans when it kicked on. But the fireplace in the living room stood unused and empty, making that room seem cold. A gas log was a good solution, providing extra heat and a cozy fire.
Then there was the matter of the insulation in the attic, packed down over the decades and way under code. In addition, the attic door didn’t fit securely into the ceiling, letting heat escape. Al and I made the big decision to hire a company to put in more insulation. It turned out to be more expensive than anticipated; but we were assured that this would lower heating bills and last through the “lifetime” of the house! That along with fixing the out-of-whack attic door was an important improvement.
We were well prepared, however, when the temperature dropped drastically and the snow began falling, it was still a big adjustment for us. A dire weather report on TV served as a wake up call: “The cold is here to stay and the worst is yet to come!” Just after that forecast a new record was set in the metropolitan area of Detroit — 20 degrees or below for 12 days in a row, not counting wind chills!
As the winter months continue, I am very appreciative of having a warm, well-insulated house to live in. Just after we moved here last January, a huge storm came through the area, knocking down trees and power lines. Our neighborhood lost its power for five days. When the temperature dropped to the 40s inside the house, we packed up our things, took the dogs to a nearby kennel (warmer than the house!) and stayed with our son-in-law and daughter until the power was restored.
It is hard to imagine anyone living on the streets during the winter. How could a person survive the cold, especially with wind chills often lowering the temperatures way below zero? And yet, people are out there, like the shivering man standing on the corner holding a “Need Help!” sign as we drove by in our heated car on the way to sit in the hot tub at the gym. Oh my! How can we help? How can we make a difference to those folks, the ones who don’t have adequate shelter?
Forgive us, Father, for looking the other way. Please show us how we can help. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
“He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” — Micah 6:8 NIV
If you are in the Porterville area, there will be a city wide “Homeless Connect” event, Friday, Jan. 26, from 8:30-1:30 p.m. at the First Methodist Church, 344 E. Morton Ave., Porterville. Your involvement would be greatly appreciated!
Judy Lowery lives in Michigan. The Good News column appears regularly in The Porterville Recorder. You can read more at Judy’s blog, goodnewswithjudy.blogspot.com.