This past week Paul and I had spent days in the house. We had been working and just hadn’t gone anywhere. Finally on Saturday, in order to preserve our sanity, we decided to run some errands and get out for a little bit. Bad decision.
Snow and ice had been forecast. Preparations for something on the scale of Armageddon had begun, and for our sanity we immediately decided to go back home. There were lines that were way too long, people rushing around like madmen, and not a loaf of bread or gallon of milk to be found this side of the Mason-Dixon line.
We are very serious about snow in the South. We make sure there is gas in the car, salt on the sidewalks, wood in the fireplace, and tons of food in the kitchen. But the minute the first flake falls, we turn into giddy 3rd graders. We can’t help it; we don’t get to see it that often. How different life must be in other regions of the country.
I can’t imagine living in the Northeast where they see so much snow and cold weather. On a tour once in Boston, our guide said the previous winter they had run out of places to push the snow piles from where they had plowed the streets. And when we were there in APRIL that year, most parking lots had mountains of snow in every corner.
Conditions like that must be what led to the famous Yankee Ingenuity: inventive solutions for practical problems, self-reliance, shrewdness, thriftiness. And it’s true. When Paul and I were in New England the first week of November, everyone already had all their Christmas decorations up in their yards. I mean everyone. I couldn’t understand it until someone explained that if you wait any longer it’s too cold. Solutions to practical problems.
And switching to the West Coast, California in particular, most of us tend to think of them as hippy-dippy, granola types who, if they aren’t surfing gnarly waves, are eating bean sprouts and hugging trees. But the West Coast has its share of problems. Droughts followed by the Santa Ana winds lead to raging fires, and when the rains do come, they bring flooding and mudslides. Did we mention earthquakes?
And then there’s the Midwest. Hmmm. I was trying to come up with a description, but “boring” was the only thing that popped into my mind. Nothing stood out; I mean they don’t even have an accent really. I knew I must be wrong so I asked a good friend who has a wickedly keen sense of observation and humor and who was partially raised there. Strangely her take on it was basically the same. The people are the salt of the earth, but she could come up with no real distinguishing characteristics. It’s no wonder though: tornadoes, floods, dust storms, lightning storms, freezing winters, blazing summers. These people are so busy fighting the elements they don’t have time to be interesting.
While these descriptions are wildly simplistic and farcical in some respects, they are stereotypes built from tiny grains of truth. I don’t think our Founding Fathers could have foreseen such diversity had they tried, and maybe that’s a good thing. And just maybe that’s what we should focus on now - the things we have in common, not our differences.
Lately differences seem to be all we look for: Northern / Southern, Republican / Democrat, conservative / liberal, vaxxer / anti-vaxxer, insurrectionists / tour group. It’s readily apparent that we’re miles apart on most issues, but we are “one nation under God, indivisible with liberty and justice for all”. It won’t be easy; after all, it takes more effort to build bridges than walls.