It sure was easy to pick out a beautiful thing for Day 2! I was working my third 12-hour shift in a row, and so I felt less than enthusiastic about getting up that morning. But as I stepped out into the 10-degree morning, the beauty was dazzling. The sun had just broken above the horizon, flooding the world with rosy pink light just like turning on a light switch. As I drove down the road, beneath the tunnel of trees all dressed with the latest style of snowy embellishments, I rejoiced to be alive to see such a day—and I decided it might be worth going to work just for the privilege of being out and about on such a morning!
Fresh, puffy snow had covered everything, and the sunshine, still low on the horizon, traced a shadow-world against the brilliant surface—a parody landscape of ridiculously stretched houses, trees, fenceposts, and cars. I marveled again that I have such a beautiful commute—I pass two dairy farms, a goat farm, and lots of fields and forests, dotted by old farmhouses and insubstantial trailers, many of them with wisps of wood smoke trailing from the chimneys. The homes bespeak the people who live in them—not rich, except in ingenuity and resourcefulness, a bit battered and run-down, but standing bravely through another winter. I’ve really come to admire these Mainers, especially the rugged elderly folk who have weathered 80 or 90 years of bitter cold winters and short growing seasons. They strike me as nobility dressed in heavy boots and flannel shirts, men and women with natural dignity who at the same time glow with congenial down-to-earthness. They are a generation of loggers, farmers, and factory workers, who have developed a cheerful attitude toward hardship—like the little old lady who, when I told her I had come to start an IV, responded cheerfully, “Good!” Perhaps seeing my surprised look, she followed up with, “I guess if it’s got to be done, you might as well do it!” Or there’s the fellow whom I pass on my way to work; he strides cheerfully down the sidewalk through the frigid air, carrying his lunchbox in one hand and his coffee mug in the other. Apparently he missed the memo that he is supposed to feel sorry for himself for having to walk to work in the dead of winter.
I’m proud to call these people my neighbors, and privileged to help care for them and learn from their plucky attitude!