“Are you ready to go sledding, Tommy Boy?” Few things excite my lifelong friend and childhood hero, Toby Dawn McIntyre, more than a snow day, and he has been dying to slide down the backside of the Waurika dam ever since I came to Duncan. “Do you still have that old snowboard we found at the thrift store?” he asked as he headed for the garage. Snow days bring out his inner 8-year-old, but I just wasn’t in the mood for his nonsense. A simple “no” does not satisfy someone like Toby, and he just wouldn’t quit. At times like this, he just gets plumb annoying, so I let him have it.
In my defense, it was cold, and cold weather makes me want to cuss a little. I reminded him that normal adults have responsibilities, so no, I could not go play snow. We faced one of the most dangerous cold spells in history, and I had responsibilities. Toby Dawn is rarely speechless, but this stopped him cold. His chin quivered a bit, and I tried to walk it all back, but my pity party crushed him. The smallest things can push us over the edge in times like this.
After the year we have all had, the last thing we needed was 13 degrees below zero, especially this close to spring. At some point, it starts to get to us. Instead of greeting a friend with a hearty “What’s up!” we ask sarcastically, “What now?” We looked forward to 2021 only to discover that 2020 kept going, and people are wearing down. Our tanks are empty. No one is happy, no one likes us, and we should probably eat some worms, but the darn things are frozen solid under a foot of snow! Stupid worms.
I read somewhere that at times like this, when misfortune abounds, grace abounds even more. Focusing on the bitterness and pettiness of this world can make us petty and bitter. On the other hand, if we focus on the pure, lovely, and peaceable things around us, we might just take on those qualities. Just when we thought COVID could not get worse, it froze, but we really do not have to look far to find blessings. In fact, the closer we look the better. While we love to complain about the government, I dare anyone to complain about City of Duncan staff clearing roads and repairing water-main breaks in sub-zero conditions. Electricity may have been out for short periods, but Duncan Power and Cotton Electric did a heroic job of keeping thousands safe and warm. The cold weather sure irritates me, but it’s hard to be grumpy when I see people pushing strangers out of snowbanks. Neighbors clearing driveways. Local officials and churches providing warm shelter and food.
Our local Health Department officials have been working during this storm, too. By Monday morning, most of the DPS staff who requested vaccinations will have received them – before educator vaccines were supposed to start! If cold weather like this can reduce mosquito and tick populations, perhaps it might just help their efforts by putting the corona on ice permanently. (The virus, not the beverage.) Even this bitter cold has its upside!
Yes, I apologized to Toby Dawn, but I did not go sledding with him, which I regretted until I discovered that he stole the lid of my trash bin, so I think we are even. If you saw a large Irishman sliding down area hills this week, that was Toby. If you had power, water, and clear highways, that was a local hero. If someone pushed you out of a snowbank or cleared your sidewalks, be thankful you live in Duncan. If we focus on the blessings, we can be a blessing to others who are struggling. And if you have not yet played in the snow, you still have time. Please tell Toby “Hi! for me, and ask him to please bring back my trash bin lid and snowboard.
Dr. Deighan is the Superintendent for Duncan schools. To contact Dr. Deighan, email to firstname.lastname@example.org.