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Posts Tagged ‘winter’

Photo: Jessica Ojala
Rabbi David Fainsilber (left) and Rev. Rick Swanson are working with law enforcement and volunteers to combat winter homelessness in Vermont.

Vermont gets really cold in winter, and the most recent winter was especially brutal. That is why a coalition of volunteers, religious leaders, and law enforcement officers have banded together to combat homelessness. Seeing families with young children living in their cars in bitter, brutal weather made them say, Enough is enough.

Reports Mark Davis at Seven Days Vermont, “An improbable alliance of religious leaders, law enforcement officials and volunteers quietly opened Lamoille County’s first homeless shelter. The sheriff’s department owns the Yellow House in Hyde Park, and a band of volunteers and sheriff’s deputies has been staffing it since the first frozen weeks of February.

“The shelter isn’t getting any government funds or charitable donations; in fact, it hasn’t been officially ‘approved’ by the town. But the Yellow House has hosted a steady stream of guests this winter. …

“The number of people without housing in Lamoille County swelled from 22 in 2016 to 64 in 2017, including 34 children, according to an annual survey by the Vermont Coalition to End Homelessness. But the closest shelters were more than an hour away, in Burlington and Vergennes.

“Organizers tried without success for three years to open a permanent shelter in nearby Morrisville. They concluded that it’s easier to beg forgiveness than to ask permission and opened the Yellow House with little public notice.

” ‘It’s a “Let’s just do this” approach. Enough is enough. There simply can’t be families and individuals out in the cold anymore,’ said Rabbi David Fainsilber of the Jewish Community of Greater Stowe. ‘I appreciate all the questions and concerns people may have. And yet, at the end of the day, I personally have to ask myself, Did a family stay out of their car and have a warm place to stay?’

“Organizers such as Fainsilber envisioned Yellow House as a winter-only endeavor. The Hyde Park planning and zoning offices gave the shelter temporary verbal approval before it opened, according to backers, but will spend the coming months mulling over whether to grant official permits. No hearings have been scheduled.

” ‘I’m hoping it’s not a battle. But if it is a battle, I’m committed, because the interfaith community is, too,’ said Sheriff Roger Marcoux Jr., a key backer of the project. …

“Part of the problem is the nature of rural homelessness, according to shelter advocates. In Burlington, the itinerant people who congregate downtown are highly visible. But the homeless in Lamoille County tend to live out of sight in an unheated camp in the woods, or in cars, so residents don’t appreciate the size of the population. …

“In late December, temperatures plummeted to minus-25 degrees, and Rev. Rick Swanson of Saint John’s in the Mountains Episcopal Church heard that people were sleeping in tents in the woods. Swanson opened the doors to his Stowe church. One man came in from the cold and spent several nights sleeping inside, by the altar. …

“Religious leaders reached out to Marcoux, the longtime sheriff, who is elected to his post and enjoys broad discretion in setting program and budget priorities within his jurisdiction. Marcoux wasn’t just cooperative; he offered to host the shelter.

“The Yellow House is part of a complex of abandoned buildings across the street from the Lamoille County Sheriff’s Department in Hyde Park village. …

“To head off any potential community concerns about safety, he pledged on-duty deputies would regularly stop by. …

” ‘I’m in the business of protecting the public, and I feel like I’m doing that,’ Marcoux said. ‘Why are people living in cars when I’ve got a house I’m heating?’ ”

More.

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“My hair was over in the grass/ My naked ears heard the day pass.”

These bent-over bushes, usually so tall, look resentful to me: “How can you keep letting this happen?”

“Well,” I respond, “I can’t control the weather.”

And then it occurs to me that I am actually relieved there are still things humans can’t control.

One thing we can control, usually anyway, is our decision making. I often think about how hard it is to make a decision with incomplete information and, when you look back at what you ended up doing, how obvious the choice seems.

Usually I spend two nights in Providence at Suzanne and Erik’s so I can volunteer in a couple Rhode Island ESL classes. But early Monday I had to decide where to spend my blizzard. One report quoted a manageable 2-4 inches. Others said 6-12. I even heard 18 inches was a possibility in places.

Without complete information about the amount of snowfall projected, the time that the blizzard would hit, and the likelihood of classes being canceled, I struggled to decide whether to stay in Providence or go back to Massachusetts.

Another wrinkle: I had promised to take an Eritrean refugee to a parking garage to see if there were any job openings, and I knew that if I left Providence late, I could hit heavy Boston traffic and might have to drive in the dark, which I have been avoiding lately.

In the end, I took The Eritrean student to the garage. The man in charge wasn’t exactly friendly to her, but she was thrilled to have practiced asking for work and to have received a URL for making an online application. She told me she hadn’t had any ideas about how to get started.

A very independent woman, the student insisted on taking the bus home, and I headed north.

As it happened, I was going to be on my own whether in Providence or at home, and today being at home seems so obvious I wonder why I was anxious about making the right choice. At home, my car is sheltered, there’s a greater possibility of someone checking on me, and a reduced likelihood of power failures. (The town has a municipal light plant, and outages are both rare and quickly fixed if they do occur.)

What was your last many-moving-parts decision? Doesn’t it seem obvious to you now?

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March 8, 2018, New England. Beaten-down dogwood blocks the back steps.

After the blogger behind Jnana’s Red Barn posted 10 things he liked about March, I thought, “Wow! What a challenge!” New Englanders often find it hard to think of even one good thing about March. Winter hangs on and hangs on and hangs on, the snow no longer seems magical, and activities get canceled that you thought for sure you would be able to do in March.

Could I possibly think of 10 good things? I knew it would be good for me to try.

1. Daylight. I definitely like having more daylight.

But although I thought about Jnana’s challenge for days, daylight was the only thing I could think of that I liked about March.

Should I mention how quiet it is at Suzanne and Erik’s house when they take the family off for March vacation? (I stay at the house when I volunteer in Rhode Island.) It’s much more entertaining when the grandchildren are there, but quiet can be nice once in a while, and I’ll never get to 10 if I don’t include this.

2. A quiet house.

A couple items are comparative — that is, they start to happen a lot more in March.

3. More walks in the woods.

4. More sightings of neighbors.

Once I got this far, I began to think it might be possible to get to 10.

5. The first spring flowers.

6. Four young cousins playing at my husband’s birthday.

7. Decorating Easter eggs.

8. John and Suzanne planning their two families’ New Shoreham summer.

9. Irish music by the Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem.

10. Return of the redwing blackbirds.

Yaay! I’m feeling more positive already. How about you? Can you find 10 things you like about March?

 

 

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When you don’t have to travel, ice and snow are not the burden they are to a driver. You can wander a little outside your home and take pictures, bake banana bread, put out carrots for the bunny that appears at dawn, feed the birds, make ice lanterns.

The ice lanterns above were made by John’s children, and the photo was taken by my daughter-in-law. I love the smoky, swirly, mysterious aura that she captured.

My own 2018 ice lantern is below. My husband was critical to the enterprise. If you want to make an ice lantern yourself, check out an earlier post, here. You need a really cold day.

Right before Christmas, I took several photos of ice on trees and bushes because it looked so pretty. I know it’s not good for plants, though.

Sandra M. Kelly is the photographer behind the two photos of frozen bodies of water in New Shoreham — water that hardly ever freezes. It didn’t stay frozen long enough for her to get shots of ice boat racing, however. New England is swinging too quickly from deep freeze to balmy.

The big snow January 4th produced the mountain I noticed in a parking lot and the deceptive cushions on Suzanne’s porch furniture.

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Before we head off for vacation (actually, I’m retired, so I’m always on vacation), I thought I’d post some more photos, especially as blogger KerryCan says she likes them. The general theme is winter, which began officially with the Winter Solstice on Thursday. I already imagine that I can perceive the increase in daylight. (Well, we believe what we want to believe.)

OK, what have we here? A shock of deciduous holly berries. We need to prune these bushes, but the shivering birds get to eat first.

Two shadow pictures and ESL students dancing at one Jewish Vocational Service holiday party. The dancers here are from Morocco, Ivory Coast, Puerto Rico and Haiti. The teacher is the woman in red. Everyone brought food. I especially loved the Chinese pot stickers and the Nepalese chicken curry. My chocolate chip cookies disappeared, too.

The Colonial Inn has an annual Gingerbread House display.

My 7-year-old grandson is a fierce hockey player whether on his team (Saturday 7 a.m. practice, Anyone?) or in this backyard rink created by John.

The last photos don’t really need commentary, but I thought the lost Christmas crafts were sweet and clearly wanted to be on some child’s tree. I hope they got a home.

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I wanted to share a few photos documenting a view of New England’s transition from fall to winter. (Maybe it’s not officially winter, but we have had our first snow.)

I start off here with one of my favorite photographic subjects: shadows. These are shadows of late-autumn weeds. Next we have a view of French’s Meadow along the Sudbury River. It is nearly always covered with water from the river escaping the banks.

Concord was the site of the military funeral for Tom Hudner, Korean War hero and a native of Fall River, Massachusetts.

The classroom picture was taken December 12, when students from a Providence English-as-a-Second-Language class where I volunteer gave me the sweetest thank-you celebration. Many of them also took phone videos of me trying to replicate the dancing of a Congolese woman in the class. Now I am worried about how many Facebook pages it’s on.

The gingerbread house is the 2017 version by the woman who does one every year for the town library. Each year’s is more amazing than the last. Note the little duck pond in the lower left.

The Grasshopper Shop, a women’s clothing store, put out a tree decorated with the holiday wishes of children. How sad that one child would have to wish “that North Korea doesn’t nuke anyone.”

The deciduous holly and white pine are pictured after our first snow. The town was really pretty when my husband and I walked through the shadows cast by streetlights and holiday lights on our way to dinner that night.

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It is not really spring yet although a weird February tried to fool us with several warm days before handing us back to single-digit temperatures.

There is a period in New England when the weather teeters back and forth between winter and spring — and inevitably brings to mind the e.e. cummings poem “[In Just-].” It’s a happy poem reminding one that as long as there are springs, there will always be excited children running outdoors to play, hollering back at someone in the house, “I don’t need a coat — it’s hot!”

Here is the poem:

in Just-
spring when the world is mud-
luscious the little
lame balloonman

whistles far and wee

and eddieandbill come
running from marbles and
piracies and it’s
spring

when the world is puddle-wonderful

the queer
old balloonman whistles
far and wee
and bettyandisbel come dancing

from hop-scotch and jump-rope and

it’s
spring
and

the

goat-footed

balloonMan whistles
far
and
wee

 2017-sunrise
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