Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Groundhog Day, again

Today is Groundhog Day, February 2, 2011 and the Groundhog has been reluctant to peek out of his several burrows, let alone forecast the arrival of spring—Groundhog events are in doubt all over the eastern US because of terrible weather.  My own self-exposure in this blog has been similarly slow to develop…talk about low expectations.  I set my sights on one post per month and I have already not met the beginning of that deadline.   We are having an ice storm, however, and that gives me a small window to look through at the bleak weather and into which to put a reflection or two, because there is no school today. 
Since I wrote last, my father has endured some pretty poor weather, too.  The east coast of the US, which he and I have in common, has experienced eight winter storms since late December, 2010.  Right now (mercifully prior to this enormous latest storm—is this the ninth??), my husband has driven up to see him and they will be sitting out the current blizzard together downeast.  He has already given  me some valuable feedback about the situation there, and I am greatly relieved to know that I can take a break for a few days. 
I have been thinking a lot about transitions in the past month.  Winter to deeper winter (notice how I stayed away from spring?), independent to less independent, employed to retired, successful to unsuccessful—the drift is clear, but I am not referencing my own situation here, just ruminating about how easily things can go wrong.  We are used to a somewhat self-protective cautionary cliché—“there but for the grace of God go I,” or similar utterance.  We have come to realize, with all the job loss and foreclosure that is around us, that the line between OK and not-OK or between successful and homeless is a thin one—thinner, indeed, than many of us ever realized in our middle class, cosseted younger days.  Those of us with parents who lived through the Great Depression in the early ‘30s were reminded often of how tough things could get, but it was remote, at least to me, principally evident in my mother’s reluctance to buy anything for herself when I was a child.  Anything.  
Now that my husband and I are immersed in the years that often signal retirement, the precariousness of our working lives—dependent on health, dependent on continued cognitive strength, dependent on a work environment that is suitable, comfortable, endurable—is more and more evident.  We used to joke about “eating cat food” in our old age—with the economic reverses of the last few years, we no longer feel so glib.  We actively hope to be able to keep working until we are able (no longer “ready”) to retire.   I’m ready, not yet able.
Good news!  The Groundhog was able to see above the ice and did not see his shadow!  Spring is just around the corner!  

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