Tag Archives: winter stories

Great News! Praise God! “The Buzzards are Circling!”

Hi Friends:
It’s funny how you can take one “old saying,” and apply it to two different circumstances, and it mean two totally different things.

All my life, the saying that “The Buzzards are Circling” was a bad thing.

A very bad thing.
In fact, it always meant that, as bad as things are now … they were about to get worse.

That is … until I moved into the North Country.
To the Great North Woods.
A place where even words like “Spring” have a totally different meaning than from anywhere else in the Country.

A little over 2 weeks ago, our version of “Spring” arrived.
As with a lot of things “up here,” what things mean “everywhere else” means something different here.

Please don’t take this as “always negative,” either. It’s amazing the difference that even something like “an old saying” can take on a totally different meaning … based solely upon the attitude of the person who is saying it. That’s the case with this “Buzzards are Circling” phrase. All my life, it has meant that things were going to go from bad to worse … and, that fact was so evident that even the buzzards knew it.

We all know what buzzards do. Like so many things we may consider as “undesirable,” they have a purpose and a benefit.

I’m thinking that the saying “The Buzzards are Circling” came from the Old West, here in the United States. My earliest memories of hearing the phrase came from watching those old Western movies, where, at a really bad time, the characters, always in a desperate situation with no hope for rescue, would look up to the skies … where, sure enough, the buzzards would be circling. We all knew what they were waiting for. What they were expecting to happen.
So, this phrase, it just went without saying, meant that all hope was gone. It’s over. I mean … things are so bad, that … well … the buzzards are circling …

Enter the Great North Woods.
Literally.

The land across the road from our house is wooded.
Tall, tall pine trees.
Thick branches.
Perfect for roosting.
Guess what roosts every year in the top of those big pine trees?
Buzzards.
Guess when they begin to gather and roost in these trees?
At the end of Winter.
Not, necessarily, at the beginning of Spring.
But, at the end of Winter.

I honestly don’t know where they stay during the Winter months.
I really don’t.
I mean, I see them all Winter, all over the countryside.
But, they don’t roost here.
I don’t know where they stay all Winter.
All I know is that they show up, like clockwork, at Winter’s end, a couple of hours before dark.
First, only a couple of buzzards are seen circling around the trees.
Then, as we get closer and closer to dusk, the number increases.
Increases greatly.
You see them circling … first, in wide circles … then, gradually, the circles get smaller … and smaller … until, one by one, they land in the tops of the trees.
You can hear their wings ruffle as they get comfortable in the trees.
You can see them, through the branches, as you hear them “settle in for the night.”

Again, they only start doing this at the end of Winter … and, they continue to roost there all Summer, and deep into the Fall.

So … after such a long, long, cold, cold, seemingly never-ending Winter … last Wednesday, the last week of March … they started to arrive.
What an allegory this is … they arrived Wednesday evening … only a couple to begin with … but they were here!
Praise God!
The buzzards are circling!
Let me say that again:
Praise God!
The buzzards were circling!

Remember that early line about how even an “old saying” can take on a completely different meaning, based solely upon who was speaking it?
I clearly remember, last Wednesday evening, being on the front porch, and saying this, out loud, and I mean out loud:
“Thank you Jesus!
The buzzards are circling!”

God is so good.
So good!
He can even take something like that old saying, those words, and turn them into a praise report!

Oh yeah?
Yeah!
“Well, how is it now?”

Well … I’m looking out the office window, at 5:00PM on Friday, April 6.
What do I see?
Not buzzards.
It looks more like “blizzard.”
Good ‘ol North Country.

That’s ok.
We’ve been blessed.
So it’s snowing.
Hard.
This morning, when I left for School … it was 12 degrees.
But … the buzzards are circling!
It didn’t feel that cold.
Ok … that’s because we just finished a wind storm (good ‘ol high gusty winds with below freezing temperatures), and,
because the wind had subsided, it felt warmer.
How high has the wind been?
One of our neighbors, at School today, asked if we’d lost any trees.
So, 12 degrees, with no wind, was a blessing.
Plus … the buzzards are circling!

Man! I’m still looking outside, and it still looks like a blizzard.
Good ‘ol April 6th!
But … a few minutes ago, about 4:30 … through the snow … as I stood on the front porch … I could make out … through the snow … yes it was …
A buzzard circling!
I saw, and heard, him land in the treetop across the road, and heard the ruffling of his feathers …
Any minute now … more buzzards would be circling through the snow …
We’re at the end of Winter!
I look outside the window again:
Man, those are some big flakes!

I just looked out the back window.
Those are some big flakes!
I rush back to the office to make sure I read the calendar right. Yes … and, this last Sunday was, in fact, Easter.
Yep … Today is April 6.
Baseball season has started.
I gotta get back out to that front porch …
I gotta see more buzzards!
I also gotta make sure I’ve got gas in the snow-blower …

I write of all this, because we have readers all over who just find it so hard to believe that the weather is really “like this.”
It is.
They always ask questions like “How do you handle it?”
(I know they really mean something like “What are you, crazy???)
Anyway, when I left for School this morning, there wasn’t a cloud in the sky.
Beautiful.
What does this mean?
Stick around … it’ll change.
Enter the Great North Woods.

Here’s how we “handle it” in the North Country:
When I left School this afternoon, it had already begun to snow.
I left the School parking lot, and up ahead, a couple of blocks away … through the snow … I could make out an image …
A student, who lives a couple of blocks from the School, was shooting hoops, out in front of his house.
Keep in mind that it is snowing.
This student has a basketball goal at the end of his driveway, so he has to “dribble” in the street. There he was, shooting hoops …
as the snow continued to fall … wearing the “hoodie” which we up in New England have come to love … big deal … he was outside, Friday
after School … snow falling … big deal … he was playing basketball, and hitting layups …
Did he know we were officially at the end of Winter?
Did he know the buzzards had begun to circle?

A couple of streets down … snow falling heavier now … I glance off to the right … the baseball field …
Yep … there they were …. as the snow continued to fall …
Baseball practice.
Baseball practice.
Looks like everyone showed up.
Baseball practice.
As the snow falls.
Did they somehow know that it was the end of Winter?
Did they somehow know that the buzzards had returned?
Did they know, for a week now, that the buzzards had been circling?

For our friends “all over,” who are complaining about the cold weather, this is how we “handle” the weather “up here.”
Yes … the buzzards are indeed circling …
Let’s grab our bats, mitts and gloves … let’s get out there and practice our layups …

For … Praise God … “The Buzzards are Circling.”

Wow! Those are some really big flakes.
That’s ok:
The buzzards are circling!

Just so you know … we’ve used 6 tons … plus 20 bags of wood pellets, in our stove … so far …
For those keeping score … that is 12,800 pounds of wood fuel pellets …

But … Thank you, Jesus … The buzzards are circling!

Blessings to you, and your family,
Richard. Vincent. Rose.

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Looking Back (Side) at Winter: Race to the Road

Hi Friends:

As we anxiously awaited the arrival of Spring this year, we couldn’t help but think about how tough this Winter has been. Yet, through it all, we’d always, every day, hold onto that “promise of Spring.”

I don’t think I’ve seen the snow as deep in the back yard as it is now. The snow bank, next to the driveway, which is where we throw the snow, is 5 feet high. I have friends who just don’t have anywhere else to put any more snow. But, that’s how our version of Spring’s arrival looks.

I don’t remember having as much ice as we’ve had this year, and, by that, I mean how the driveway has “iced over” so many times. I remember one Monday, taking the trash barrel out to the road, I didn’t make it down the driveway … at least on 2 legs. About half-way down, I just couldn’t half-stand any farther. I was doing the ‘ol surf-board bend, my left arm extended, and the other hand grasping the handle of the trash barrel, when gravity took over … I ended up sliding, on my backside and side … down the second half of the driveway … ending up in the middle of the road. Me and the trash barrel ended up in a dead-heat at the road, both arriving at the same time. No … I think I made it to the road first!

For a moment, I knew how those guys in the Winter Olympics feel … Unfortunately … it was that guy who symbolized “The agony of defeat.”

And, speaking of “de feet,” I felt even worse, because I had a pair of “crampons” attached to my “big boy boots,” sitting there by the pellet stove. What a life-saver these are. Carol had gotten me these for Christmas, and I have used them a couple of times, when clearing out the ice and adding dirt to the driveway. These are the “strap-on” crampons, with rubber “soles,” which you just stretch over the bottoms of your boots. If you are thinking about buying these, they are worth every penny. It’s like a tool you buy for a particular job, and don’t use very often. But, when you use them, they are well worth whatever you paid for them. I even saw the mail carrier wearing these. I was concerned that there was no way she could walk up the driveway, on a day when the whole driveway was a solid sheet of ice. She got out of the mail truck, and without flinching, proceeded to walk up our driveway, without batting an eye. When she first started up, I was amazed … it seemed miraculous … it was like she was walking on water, which if you think about it (think about it in context here), she was … frozen water. So, anyway, they are worth the money.

So, why didn’t I just slip my boots on, this particular morning? I mean, I walked right past them on my way out the door to take the trash down, and then leave for work. You know why. Because, as I always do, when getting ready for work, I cut it as close as humanly possible to leave at the last possible moment. I mean, like many of you, I have it down to a science. Every second really does count. I don’t wear “tie-up” shoes, slip-ons only, so I won’t have to “waste” 2 minutes tying shoes. Most of my school shirts are of the “pull-over” variety. I’m not mandated to wear a tie, which would be difficult because of what I may have to do, on any given day. This saves me precious seconds spent buttoning a shirt. I have my clothes ready, and lunch made, from the night before. I am constantly trying to find new ways to save time in the mornings. So, I did think about putting on the boots with crampons, but that would have “cost” me precious time, having to deal with the boot laces, and then, having to untie the boots to swap into my school shoes (slip-ons, of course) would have cost me maybe, just maybe, 3 minutes. So, I made the decision to “risk it” and walk/crouch down the driveway, to get the trash to the curb. 3 extra minutes! What would you have done?

While it could have been much, much worse (I know people who broke bones in less of a fall), especially if there had been any traffic at all, I still got my palms and arms bloodied up a bit, but, since I was running late for work … I waited until I got to work to “clean up” and check to see if my clothing had suffered any tears. On the way to work, I used what paper towels and tissues I had in the truck, to get the bleeding stopped and clean up enough to make the walk from truck to building without attracting any attention.

The next part I must place in context. I had slid a pretty good distance on the ice, and, if there was any damage to my clothing, it would be in a place I couldn’t see. When I reached the Library, there were a couple of staff members, which are trusted friends. One of the ladies, yes ladies, had suffered a serious injury from a fall on the ice, a couple of years ago. I mean, she had gotten really hurt from the fall. So, I knew she would understand. She is also a friend of Carol’s, so it seemed ok to politely ask. So, in the best, mild-mannered way I could, I briefly explained what had happened, and would she be kind enough to check out … I mean … take a look at … I mean … well, it wasn’t comfortable, but necessary under the circumstances. I had to make sure my pants weren’t ripped … They weren’t, and only my pride had been injured.

As I flew (I guess you can fly on your rear end) down the driveway, I could really sense God’s hand on me. I really could. The thoughts of so many people, friends I’ve known, who have been hurt by falling on ice, I must admit, raced through my mind. Which made the fact that nothing was broken, or badly injured, mean that much more to me. I may have come close, but, yet again, when I’ve done something stupid, God’s hand was still on me.

Yeah, it’s been a tough Winter. Yet, that’s all the more reason to be thankful. Thanks, literally, to God’s protective hand, we’ve made it through. Yeah, there is still more “weather” to go through … I mean … If I hear one more person tell me how they remember when it snowed on the 4th of July …

Like so many situations in our lives, it is God’s faithfulness in the past, which gives us hope for the future. As David said, the same God which delivered me from the bear, and the lion, will deliver me from this …

Again, I can’t remember a time, ever, when I have looked more forward to Spring and Summer …
Yet, as I remember this Winter, what God wants me to remember is that it is a memory … of times past … when He kept His hand on us, and gave us confidence and assurance in the future. A future which He has made possible, and, He will be with us in the middle of Spring and Summer, too.
See, the weather will improve.
I need to improve.
He doesn’t.

Blessings to you, and your family,
Richard. Vincent. Rose.