Forty days and forty nights

Forty days and forty nights can seem an eternity. Many religious works have a number of “forty days and forty nights” events, with few of them pleasant; many centered on sacrifice, suffering, and destruction. The Twin Cities has endured slightly over forty days and forty nights of below zero (Fahrenheit) weather this winter, but we have not cracked the top ten for years with the most sub-zero temperatures. Today was day 43 and it is hopefully our last for at least the next ten days.

As a gardener, my worry is the severity and duration of our unseasonable weather will result in serious winter kill in the gardens. For all intents and purposes, my area went from USDA Growing Zone 4 to USDA Growing Zone 2. I have mulch in all the gardens and we had sufficient rainfall before the ground froze. That should help, but will it be enough?

As a homeowner, I worry that the frost line will get deep enough to cause frozen pipes. That is happening in other places, and I have a friend who mentioned on Facebook that the going rate to thaw pipes in her town is $200.00 per hour. I have been in my house for fifteen years, and I do not remember a winter with this many below zero days. A natural gas shortage is causing problems for some homeowners in rural parts of the Midwest even if they can afford the nearly 400% price increase. The National Weather Service tells us this is the coldest we have seen for over thirty years. We heard that the weather and climate have been steadily growing warmer for decades or centuries depending on which study one reads, so perhaps we got complacent. Maybe we solved Anthropogenic Catastrophic Climate Change and the earth is back to normal?

After our eighteen consecutive days of going below zero, we may finally start seeing temperatures approaching normal. When the temperature starts rising, people will emerge from their homes much like a creature emerging from its winter shelter, blinking because of the sunlight, smelling the fresh air rather than the mostly recirculated air in a sealed house, and shuffling off to forage and frolic. I hope these folks do not act like a bear in the woods.Valentine’s Day is Friday. It used to be known as St. Valentine’s Day, but the religious reference faded a number of years ago. Lucy’s ancestors came from Finland, where Valentine’s Day was known as “Ystävänpäivä”, or “Day of Friendship”. Lucy was my best and closest friend, so it made perfect sense. I’m fortunate to have some wonderful friends for my Day of Friendship.

If you are buying flowers for Valentine’s Day or Day of Friendship, buy them from a local florist rather than an online service. On top of getting  a superior product, you are supporting your community, and it shows you took the time to get the right bouquet. Take a moment to be thankful for your friends, whether they are near, distant, or departed. Friends help friends through forty day and forty night challenges, and can brighten even the darkest and stormiest of nights. As always, give your special someone a meaningful hug. Here’s hoping we get forty days and forty nights of warmer weather!

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Forty days and forty nights
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We all endure prolonged periods of adversity. Having the right friends helps us get through those times.
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