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December 15, 2008

Since Saturday morning, the temperature has not risen above -6 degrees.  At night, it has dipped well into the negative 20s. 

This means many things.  It means canceled events, cold offices, slippery walks to work, and middle-of-the-night ventures out to let the car engine run so it won’t freeze up during the frigid hours between dusk and dawn.

None of these things sounds very fun, and they’re not – especially for those who also have to worry about freezing pipes and astronomical heating bills, which I thankfully do not have to be concerned with (my strawbale walls insulate so well that my heater actually turns off between the hours of 8am and 4pm). 

But for me, the experience of a new climate – and all of the inconveniences that accompany it – are as welcome as a visit to South America.  It’s something new to me, yet completely common to a significant portion of the world’s population.  Experiencing it adds that much more perspective to my worldview, as well as to my ability to relate to other people and understand where they’re coming from.

And people are always coming from somewhere.  When rural Montanans drive large pickups and SUVs with 4-wheel drive, it’s not because they’re hell-bent on causing global warming – it’s because they do a lot of driving and hauling on snowy, muddy, and gravel-strewn roads.  When my students don’t walk to school from a mile away, it’s not because they’re lazy (well, maybe some are), it’s because they’re scared of the packs of rez dogs that patrol a number of Lame Deer’s neighborhoods.  When single mothers buy Play Stations and Nintendo Wiis for their kids, it’s not because they’ve chosen video games over food – it’s because they’ve chosen to offer their kids an alternative to sex and drugs.

And when people put a blanket over their car’s hood at night, it’s not because they’re so frivolous that they’d try to protect its paint or finish – it’s because they’re trying to trap every molecule of heat possible on these cold, wintry nights!


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