The snows of April

Shoveling snow
Photo credit: Filip Mroz

If you’ve had your head oriented in the right direction today, you probably caught the sound of Midwesterners bewailing yesterday’s snow storm. These April storms, though hardly unprecedented, always seem (as T. S. Eliot noted) “cruel.” The vernal equinox passes. Easter has been celebrated. Now what’s left of the snow is supposed to decently fade away, like old soldiers. Instead we got a nice big container load of it, and the drive to work this morning was a white-knuckler (coming home was fine. The April sun was strong enough to clear the streets and dry them off too).

But I looked at it all, and I thought of my ancestors (you do that when you have no offspring, I guess). And I thought, “A spring like this might have meant starvation to those folks. By this time of year those old peasants had nearly eaten through their stored winter food. The dried cod was running low, the flatbread was moldy and mouse-nibbled, the barley porridge was getting to be more water than meal. If you couldn’t hunt something or catch some fish soon, the pickings would be lean. You might have to eat the seed grain, or slaughter one of the pigs you’d planned to breed.

So I really haven’t got any cause to complain. My food problem is eating too much of it.

I had a sudden memory in the library today. I don’t know where it came from. I remember being a boy, sitting on my bed in my room on the farm. I was looking at a book – one of the few we had in our home. I don’t remember what book it was, but it was part of Random House’s Modern Library imprint – cheap, small hardback editions of classics and “important” newer books. It was a very popular line in its time. I’ve still got several in my personal library.

In the back of the book was a list of other books available from Modern Library. Pages and pages of books. A lot of them didn’t interest me much, but some of them certainly did.

And I had no way to get my hands on them.

There were no bookstores in my little town. We had a town library, but I wasn’t in charge of my own transportation, and wouldn’t have a way to get to it even if I’d gotten a card. There was a whole big world of books out there, and I was almost entirely cut off from it, as if I had lived on a desert island.

And I thought of the fact that if I want to own almost any book in the world in 2018, I can download it to my Kindle in two minutes.

We live in a time of wonders, like plentiful food and ebooks. I complain as much as anyone (probably more) about the tribulations of living in this degenerate age.

But it occurs to me to wonder, “Is it possible that God isn’t just looking down on us and disapproving of our culture? Is it possible that He’s instead saying – ‘I gave you all these cool tools! Why don’t you put them to work to change the world?’”

3 thoughts on “The snows of April”

  1. Enjoyed the snapshot of your boyhood. A musty book seemed a precious—indeed, almost magical—possession back then. Same with an old baseball. As you recalled yourself leafing through an old Modern Library classic, I could all but see Roy Hobbs on the farm next to yours, letting fly a moldy baseball through the barn wall. But, yes, in this modern high-tech world that same sense of enchantment is quite available still, and there for the taking. No excuses.

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