Sunday, April 19, 2009

Going Rustic

I want to go there—to that cozy log cabin in the Terry Redlin painting above. It looks welcoming and warm. It looks quiet and peaceful. And it looks rustic.

I like rustic. Well, okay, I like the appearance of rustic. I want to live in that log cabin…but it has to have good insulation for the winter, air conditioning for the summer, indoor plumbing, and cable TV. I long to sip coffee on the porch swing in the morning as the birds sing their version of “Morning Has Broken,” and then I want to connect to the internet and check up on my Facebook friends. Yes, I love rustic!

Some of my favorite vacations have been in the woods of Door County, WI—waking up in the morning and seeing deer grazing at the edge of a field; watching hawks circling for five…ten minutes without ever flapping their wings; listening to the trees creaking in the wind. But I also remember moving my laptop all over one of our rented cabins to try to pick up the wireless connection the brochure promised and getting frustrated when I couldn’t get a cell phone signal! And there’s nothing like making a roaring fire in the fireplace, wrapping up in a comforter and watching one of my favorite DVDs.

Why do I long for the simple while finding it nearly impossible to let go of the technological? What does rustic do for me? Does it give me the illusion that I’m really not addicted to modern conveniences, when I obviously am? And is that so bad?

I have no answers; I’m just wondering. Now that I think of it, I did make it one week without cell phone or internet connection while on vacation with my family. But I did have my computer and TV and a car and a hair dryer…

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Finding Redemption in Strange Places

We in Chicagoland had a bit of a disappointment this week. After weeks of watching both thermometers and daffodils gradually rise, we found ourselves staring in disbelief at a blizzard-like snowfall on Sunday night. This winter started early in these parts, so this little surprise from nature was like a sneering “It ain’t over yet!” to us. A cruel trick, for sure.

After observing the thick, blowing snow in the lights of the church parking lot adjacent to our yard, I plodded into the living room and flopped down in the recliner. How discouraging, I thought. The week before Easter is not supposed to be like this! This is not Easter weather! How long have I lived in Chicago?

The next morning I was back to the all-too-familiar routine of pulling boots on, brushing snow off my car, scraping windows and side-view mirrors, and cranking the heat of the windshield defroster. Winter was still here in April, and it was Monday. What a depressing combination! I drove my usual route to work with my elbow perched against the car window and my fist propping up my dreary head.

Driving south on County Farm Road, I approached the light at Roosevelt Road as it turned red. For those of you non-locals, it’s a T-intersection, and when you are stopped at the light you are facing the woods of one of the many forest preserves in the area. I suddenly felt like I was in another dimension. Because of the wind direction during Sunday night’s storm, the north side of each tree (the side facing me) was painted white with snow. The sides and back of each trunk were bare. Somehow this emphasized the sense of depth, and it appeared that the woods were a three-dimensional scene in the midst of a two-dimensional world. It was stunning. The depressing snow created a beautiful effect that I wouldn’t have otherwise seen. Redemption. How appropriate for Easter! I thought.

By the time I drove home from work yesterday afternoon, almost all the snow was melted. This morning as I stopped at that same intersection I was sorry the snow was gone from the trees and they again looked stark, brown, and flat as they awaited the no-turning-back arrival of spring. But the sun was shining! Redemption again!

Happy celebration of redemption! Happy Easter, all!