Winter of Discontent

  “Now is the winter of our discontent.” ~ William Shakespeare

            We have hit record snowfall totals for the month of January, and almost broken the low temperature records. Small comfort in this deep freeze we have been caught in, but maybe we need a change of attitude and should try to embrace this cold snap.

            Luckily I do not have a job that entails working out in this weather, and when I do have to venture out I bundle up in layer upon layer. But, I do love the cold weather when I am inside looking out, with a cup of hot chocolate in my hand, a good book to read, and a warm throw over my legs. Unfortunately real life gets in the way and we cannot assume this position of comfort for long. Since we have no choice in the matter if we do not have a warm weather vacation in the offing we have to adjust as best we can.

            I found a few winter quotes—some inspiring, some hopeful, some funny, and others—well I think they were observed in a winter such as we are having now.  I like Robert Frost’s attitude, which lives up to his last name. He says: “You can’t get too much winter in the winter.” Now if I had said that people would have thought “duh”, or “yes you can”, but because it came from the pen of a great poet, we take note and ponder his wisdom.

            William Blake perhaps does not reflect how many of us feel but he does have a sunny way of looking at winter: “In seed time learn, in harvest teach, in winter enjoy.” Okay Bill, I will enjoy this winter keeping in mind these words from Percy Shelley: “If winter comes, can spring be far behind?” Hope obviously sprang eternal in Shelley’s human breast, adhering to Alexander Pope’s words that “Man never is, but always to be blessed.”

            Comedian and actor Billy Connolly wryly says: “There are two seasons in Scotland: June and Winter.” Being partially of Scottish origins, perhaps that is why I do not mind winter—I harken back to times in my ancestral home when I and Shirley MacLaine were living out one of our lives together there.  Hall of Famer, Bill Veeke also believes that there are only two seasons: baseball and winter.

            Dave Barry is clearly not a Canadian and his words bear this out: “The problem with winter sports is that – follow me closely here – they generally take place in the winter.” Dave, Dave, Dave – where would the Olympics be without the winter sports?

            Andrew Wyeth is rather poetic in his assessment of winter. He says: “I prefer winter and fall, when you feel the bone structure of the landscape. Something waits beneath it; the whole story doesn’t show”.

            And what would a column on quotes about winter be without a little input from that young sage, Taylor Swift who harmoniously states: “I love the scents of winter! For me, it’s all about the feeling you get when you smell pumpkin spice, cinnamon, nutmeg, gingerbread and spruce.” I feel a song coming on……Another musician, Bob Seger is inspired in the winter—he says that he writes 80% of his stuff in the cold months. “Give me some of that old time rock ‘n roll….music that will soothe the soul…..”

            A few more quotes that need no embellishment but may just sway you into thinking winter is not so bad:

1. Tom Allen says: “While I relish our warm months, winter forms our character and brings out our best.”

2. “There are three reasons for becoming a writer: the first is that you need the money; the second that you have something to say that you think the world should know; the third is that you can’t think what to do with the long winter evenings.” ~Quentin Crisp

3. “Let us love winter, for it is the spring of genius.” ~ Pietro Aretino

4. “Winter is not a season, it is an occupation.” ~ Sinclair Lewis

            I will leave you with two final comments on winter. They sum up how we all feel at one time or another. Robert Byne believes that: “Winter is nature’s way of saying ‘Up yours’”, while Anton Chekhov makes this very valid point: “People don’t notice whether it’s winter or summer when they’re happy.”

            So enjoy, be happy, and don’t throw snowballs at me when you see me!

 

All quotes from brainyquotes.com/keyword/winter

When One Door Closes

As many of you know, I am a municipal reporter and columnist. For the newspaper this week I combined the two elements in my column, and though this may seem a local story, it is one that is played out across the years and across the miles:

Stone One-room School (c.1820)

Stone One-room School (c.1820) (Photo credit: origamidon)

INTRO

            “At the Board meeting of November 20, 2012, the Greater Essex County District School Board (GECDSB) approved the closure of the Ruthven Public School effective June 30, 2013 and declared the school surplus to the needs of the Board.”

            The above paragraph was included in a notice to the Town of Kingsville in April along with the announcement that the GECDSB was issuing a proposal to offer the property for sale at a fair market value to a number of organizations. Yes, that is a door you hear closing.

WHEN ONE DOOR CLOSES

            School closings are hard. They are hard on the children who called the Ruthven Public School their school. They are hard on the teachers and staff who taught and worked at the school. They are hard on the community. And they are hard as they close a door never to be opened again.

            The saying “when one door closes another one opens” is trite but true. The students from Ruthven will be transferred to other schools, the majority to Jack Miner, and I am here to say that the transition will work. How do I know? Because many many years ago my school was closed and I was transferred to Jack Miner Public School (at the time it was Gosfield South Public School). The difference was I went from a one room school house to what we referred to as the “big school”. The transition for the Ruthven students should not be as daunting.

            At the time I was transferred a lot of the one room school houses in the area were closed so I was not the only deer caught in the headlights of a big change. At my school, six grades were taught in one room, while the grades ones and twos were taught in the boys’ and girls’ rooms—the rooms that housed our coats and bathrooms. We were civilized though—the bathrooms were closed off from the main part of the boys’ and girls’ rooms—so the six and seven year olds were not being taught how to read with Dick and Jane, Puff and Spot in the presence of the toilets.

            I remember my first day at the “big school”. I had to take a bus to get to the school which was a scary adventure in itself. Then when I arrived at the school there was some confusion as to where to go. The newbies had not been introduced to the new school beforehand (which on reflection would have been a really really good idea). When things were sorted out, I found myself sitting in a classroom of about 30 kids all the same age. We were pretty well all ten years old, and in my class many of us were like fish out of water—joining kids whose home school was Gosfield South. I guess we were somewhat of a foreign entity, and I heard rumours later that our intelligence was in question as no one was certain if the kids coming from the one room schools were up to speed.  Speaking on behalf of my cohorts— we were.

            I do not remember the transition taking long. I liked my new school, and my teacher went to my church so that was comforting. There were quite a few of us in the same boat so it seemed to go pretty smoothly. There were a lot of advantages to going to a bigger school though I missed some of the community feel of my little school. To this day I do not regret the opportunity afforded us.

            Kids are resilient. They cope because they have to—and what is at first strange and weird becomes normal. I feel badly for the students who may no longer be able to walk to school, and be “hugged” by their tightknit community, but speaking from experience, adopting a new school is not insurmountable. Economics govern and we may see some other closures and adaptations in the future. I know if my kids were affected I would be concerned—but moms and dads, students and teachers: consider this a new and exciting adventure. It is the only way to at first, muddle through; second: assimilate; and, third: enjoy the ride.

CONCLUSION

            I leave you with these words from Anna Quindlen, from her book, “A Short Guide to a Happy Life”: “I learned to love the journey, not the destination. I learned that this is not a dress rehearsal, and today is the only guarantee you get.” Enjoy your summer vacation knowing a new “today” is awaiting you.

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