A couple of weeks ago (maybe longer - the days are all melting into one big icicle anymore), there was a cold snap, a sub-zero cold snap that entrenched much of the Northeast. Schools were closed, or at least delayed, pets of all shapes and sizes were brought into houses (did you see the Huffington Post article about the German woman who has been letting her horse live in the house with her since a hurricane last December?), and wind chills of -20 degrees Fahrenheit, give or take, reigned. Everyone panicked. The media flooded the airwaves with wind chill warnings and emergency procedures for frozen pipes or dead car batteries, and general - common sense - ways to keep warm. Social media was inundated with warnings to bring our pets inside and photos of thermometers showing temperatures with the dreaded minus sign before them. Some people were amazed that their vehicle thermometers even registered that low. There was a propane shortage in the Northeast (that was legitimately scary). Milk and bread on the shelves of your favorite grocery store? Forget it. Quick Joe or road salt? No way - even though both are completely ineffective at such temperatures.
But, this morning when I trudged to the kitchen for my first cup of coffee, I saw that same minus sign in front of a double digit number glaring at me from my kitchen thermometer, but heard and saw nothing. No cold warnings from the major networks - not one. No warnings to bring my pets inside (thankfully - I don't know where I'd put ten horses, three goats, a dog, a cat, and my husband). No school delays. No emergency preparedness tips. Nothing. This morning, the cold didn't matter. It didn't matter that once again frostbite could occur in a matter of minutes. It didn't matter that the same children we were afraid to send out into the sub-zero cold a few weeks ago were being sent willingly, even happily, today. No. Today, the cold didn't matter. Reporting about it wouldn't get more viewers or listeners to tune in or give the networks an opportunity to scare the living bejeepers out of anyone. It wouldn't ensue widespread, unnecessary-other-than-to-boost-ratings panic, so why report or worry about it. This morning, instead, there was a snow storm to report (ah, that's how they'll get us!). You heard (or read) me right, a snowstorm in Northeast Pennsylvania. What? You must be kidding? We haven't seen snow in this part of the country since, well, yesterday. Is this a joke? No! Forget the cold people! Get ready for a storm that will bring with it a lot of crystallized precipitation that may accumulate and blanket our region in white - even though it already is.
Bread and milk! Milk and bread! Snow's a comin'! Get the bread and get the milk.
We haven't seen so much as a flake yet, and they - the not-through-any-fault-of-their-own-wrong-much-of-the-time weatherpersons (political correctness) - haven't determined the actual path of the storm. It might stay to the east. It might come further west. We might stay on the edge of the heavy snowfall, or we might get over a foot. It might. We might. They might. Of course, all of this might is much more important than the safety of our beloved pets, let alone any human concerns we may have -the safety of our children, or elderly loved ones, or, have mercy, any family or friends we may have that work outside in these temperatures. Cold is irrelevant, snow matters! Granted, it's a big storm that will likely cripple some of the Southeastern states, but haven't we learned yet that snow is a fairly common occurrence here. Plus, it's not set to arrive here until late tonight or very early tomorrow morning, so what about today?
Today, we shop! Isn't commerce and capitalism fun? Naturally, milk and bread are at the top of the list. Naturally? Is that really what we need? Is that what will sustain us and get us through the storm? Or, is that simply what we've been conditioned to believe we need? Whether or not we have bread in our bread drawer or milk on a shelf in our refrigerator doesn't actually matter. What matters is that we have shelter and enough food, and other supplies, to get us through the storm and safely into the next available shopping day - which, now-a-days amounts to approximately one day, maybe two if the contractor-turned-snow-plow-driver that you've hired has been out all night plowing everyone else's driveways too.
And today, we pretend that the thermometer isn't the largest negative influence in our lives as we send our kids, our pets, and our workers out into the double-digit below zero world. And, then, long before the first flake falls, and long before the excited proclamation, "it's snowing," ever leaves our lips, we wait in dreadful anticipation for the next prediction of how much of the fluffy white stuff we can expect to see, or not to see, tomorrow.
In the meantime, we shop! After all, according to the world of economics and weather, that's what we're supposed to do in such circumstances. But, for the sake of all things holy and just, don't forget the milk! Remember, man cannot live on bread alone (at least that's what the Bible tells us) - he needs milk too!
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P.S. There are people out there that are not fortunate enough to have permanent shelter or food. If you know of anyone in these circumstances, please reach out and help. Here is a link to available shelters in the our area: North East Homeless Shelter Directory.