Monday, March 23, 2009

It's been a hard winter

"Officially, winter is over and spring is here. For most of us, it has been a hard winter despite the fact that the weather has been pleasant the greater part of the time. There are things other than zero weather and heavy snowfalls that make hard winters."
Laura Ingalls Wilder, March 1922

Boy howdy, I agree with that! I'm not familiar enough with 1922 history to know exactly what Laura is talking about but the first thing that springs to my mind when I read this is the economy. It's been a hard winter for many of us, hasn't it? We're still reeling from the economic news last fall and it often has seemed like there's yet another catastrophe each time we watch the evening news; don't even get me started on the constant stream of gloom and doom from the 24 hour news channels. For a while there it was enough to make you think that the spring of hope was never going to be sprung.

Even for those of us not personally affected yet by mortgage woes or job layoffs, I imagine we all know someone that is suffering; it's easy to see how this is affecting our local businesses. Just yesterday while walking through a nearby community, I saw several empty storefronts, businesses that had been there for years, favorites of mine, that aren't there any more. They weren't able to hang on till spring, the hard winter got them.

I don't even have to go outside my own circle to find heartbreaking stories. My husband recently learned that several members of a team he managed at a previous job, people we consider friends, have been let go from their positions. These are people in their 50s and 60s who have worked for this company for decades and now they're being told that their services are no longer required. Years of service did not guarantee loyalty from their employer and might now be used against them when trying to find a new job.

And then there's the death of dreams. One of my friends fulfilled a long-held dream a year ago when she opened her own shop in our little town. All went well until the hard winter hit and the tourists stopped visiting. She tried to hold on, tried to keep the dream alive but this past week she had to admit defeat and the shop will close at the end of the month - even the promise of spring wasn't enough. I know her heart is breaking and mine hurts for her.

Lest we drown in sorrow, I'd like to revisit the source of my quote up there. The original article from 1922 goes on to describe how during the difficult times, friends and neighbors can often make the difference between making it or falling apart. I would hate to think that this is just something that happened in the past. If we are to defeat our current hard winter, we're going to have to make the difference in our own communities by helping out however we can - shopping, going out to eat occasionally, giving to the local food and clothing banks, offering material or emotional support to a friend or family member (yes, I know that's often tricky), and mostly by maintaining a spirit of optimism whenever possible. A spirit of gratitude doesn't hurt either.

Laura ends her article this way - " 'Sweet are the uses of adversity ' when it shows us the kindness in our neighbors' hearts."


No comments:

Post a Comment

Pull up a chair on the porch, have some lemonade and leave your comment in my mailbox. Thanks for visiting my little cottage!