We rose early the other day to remove the snow that had fallen in a frenzy overnight. It is winter, the deepest kind of winter that we know here in Wisconsin. Surrounded by snow, we seldom venture forth except to go to work and purchase necessities.
Along with the snow came a spate of damp weather that exacerbated the muscle aches that accompany winter work, the repetitive motion of removing snow by hand (I have yet to see a snowblower that does porches and steps, but perhaps there is one somewhere) and the tense and ginger steps one takes by instinct on icy surfaces.
But it is lighter at 4:30 p.m. than it was 10 days ago, and there is hope as we slide into the new decade that somehow this year will be better. (As a friend said of 2009 on Facebook, "Don't let the door hit you on the way out.")
My lovely little community has suffered unemployment as high as 13-14 percent and many people I know are without jobs. One friend lost her mother, another her husband. One friend suffered financial loss, another lost a job she loved and was good at. An elderly couple I know is struggling. I have seen and in fact experienced family disagreements and a pervasive bitterness that loss and anxiety breed.
On the plus side, I am aware of many many people who have given back this year, or perhaps paid forward. I have tried to be one of them. I have found that what you do, does indeed come back to you. Last spring, I gave money to a charitable cause and the next day, learned I had won the very same amount of money in a civic club raffle.
My strong belief that it is how you react to adversity that matters was proven true, again and again. A business acquaintance was forced to sell her family's company but did it with grace and optimism; she is much admired for this. Another woman lost her full-time job, but has found peace and happiness with two part-time jobs, one for a church, one for a non-profit group.
Out of economic challenge has come innovation. People are seeking new ways to make a living, sometimes to augment unemployment compensation. I think we will all benefit from this, as surely some of these tentative new businesses will take root and thrive. One man is selling hotdogs from a stand downtown; I have long wanted to see outdoor vendors in our charming downtown.
I spend a lot of time on line, and I've noticed that blogs and Web sites about frugal living abound; I will be adding some links soon. This year, I am mending an old but beloved coat and pondering making my own cleaning products.
What have you noticed in your community? What are your hopes and dreams for 2010?
Happy New Year, my friends.