The polar vortex brings temperatures to challenge, test. A foreshadowing of mortality. Extreme describes it, we’ve been told. Temperatures that cause frostbite in a few minutes.
Twenty or thirty degrees below zero. Some places, fifty degrees below. Hypothermia kills. A daughter visiting her mother never makes it back to her car. A student is found on a college campus early one morning. A woman is locked-out of her home while feeding the birds.
The planet exerts its force, demands respect. We must defer. Our patience is tested, and we wait.
Days later, a warm-up. More extremes. Melting and rain, temperatures rising to the forties. A range of sixty to seventy degrees.
We seek control as humans, control of our personal lives, control of nature’s elements. Control is our sense of security, however false.
In our minds we remain invincible. This is natural, protective. But we are living in a new system, and everything is changing. Take nothing personal, nature has no vendetta. We must prepare for these polar extremes.
Another ice storm and subzero temperatures return, trees wave ice-coated arms in the wind, knocking rooftops. Silence is broken only by eerie crackling as branches collapse from the weight of ice, snap and fall.
But danger hides under a new layer of snow, a window pane of glistening ice and an uneven concrete sidewalk. In a moment life changes. Each minute counts, and time is unforgiving. Each minute of pain is felt.
Sting’s lyrics How fragile we are drifts through my mind. Trees break, bones break. Nature regenerates, bones heal. We are resilient.