You look at numbers like 4. Or 6. Or 8. It’s children’s ages, right? Or their grades in school? Or women’s clothing sizes? Small women?
Um, no. Not this week. Although it is entirely possible that by the time you read this, on Friday or Saturday, all these numbers will have faded into an unpleasant memory, they are the temperatures that confront us this week.
And, of course, we are lucky. To our north and west, those numbers – 4, 6, 8 – had a minus sign in front of them. Below-zero temperatures tormented the Great Plains.
The improbable-looking weather charts we’ve been seeing this week recall the book of Jeremiah: “And the word of the Lord came unto me the second time, saying: ‘What seest thou?’ And I said: ‘I see a seething pot; and the face thereof is from the north.'” Except, of course, that this week the pot contained nothing that seethed. It just held ice.
We have learned a lot of new vocabulary from this phenomenon – polar vortex, Blue Norther, weather whiplash – that have warmed the hearts (if no other body parts) of the weather poets among us. We have yet more evidence – albeit not convincing enough for all of us – of global climate change.
But mostly we have learned, yet again, that there are some things that overcome all divisions. Orthodox, Conservative, Reform, Reconstructionist, secular; Jewish, Christian, Muslim, Hindu – we all froze together.
As unlikely as it seems, spring is coming. Tu B’Shevat, its first harbinger, starts on Wednesday night.
How wonderful it would be if we could all keep the memory of togetherness in adversity in mind as we thaw.