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When weather comes to town

The weather has been wild today – rain, sleet, hail, southerly winds that chill you to the bone, and even snow flurries. I could barely see in front of me as I drove to work. My windscreen wipers were going at full speed, yet I kept wondering if they were on at all. The temperature outside plummeted. The sea was wild. Waves were crashing over parts of the road; the salt spray settling on the windscreen further affecting my visibility. I tried to catch a glimpse of my beautiful city. There was nothing. It was dark – the colours sent an ominous message of energy and potential drama. There was no horizon. All I could see was a wall of nothing – a wall of raging fury.

Everything seemed to slow down. You had to be careful. You didn’t know what lay in wait – around the next corner, straight ahead of you, beside you, or above you. Anything was possible.

Blaring from my car radio came the news that Europe was sweltering in a heatwave! I blocked out the news of evacuations of people from Lebanon, the many disasters and tragedies happening beyond my reality of here and now. All too horrid to think about.

The news from home was not much better: school teacher was beaten to death in her classroom as she was preparing for new school term, arrests in relation to the gruesome murder of a local man, then the news of slips, evacuations and road closures in areas very familiar to me.

The day was only just beginning. I developed an overwhelming sense that the world was angry.

I found myself being transported back in time as I shifted my focus back to the weather. Ahhh memories

I am struck by an idea; it is human memory that strings time together. Memory takes this present moment, the smallest thing in the universe, and binds it with an infinity of other moments to make a war, or an argument, or…

I used to love listening to the radio as a childI was a child. It was Sunday morning. I was sitting in our living room in front of my father’s pride and joy – his radio – not many people owned a radio in those days. I was waiting for the children’s programme to start. I was excited. Every week I hoped to hear my favourite story: Oscar Wilde’s The Selfish Giant. This is a fairy tale about a giant who goes away to visit his friend the Cornish ogre for seven years. When he returns home he finds children playing in his garden. He wants to reclaim his garden as his own playground so he builds a wall and posts a sign that says, “trespassers will be prosecuted.” The children were no longer welcome.

As I am writing this I can still hear this story being read; the emphasis on particular words, the voices of the different characters, the images and the feelings it evoked for me.

I find myself thinking about the giant’s garden and how it stayed in winter.

The Selfish Giant, a story by Oscar Wilde which he wrote with the intention that it is read to children.

Then the Spring came, and all over the country there were little blossoms and little birds. Only in the garden of the Selfish Giant it was still Winter. The birds did not care to sing in it as there were no children, and the trees forgot to blossom. Once a beautiful flower put its head out from the grass, but when it saw the notice-board it was so sorry for the children that it slipped back into the ground again, and went off to sleep. The only people who were pleased were the Snow and the Frost. ‘Spring has forgotten this garden,’ they cried, ‘so we will live here all the year round.’ The Snow covered up the grass with her great white cloak, and the Frost painted all the trees silver. Then they invited the North Wind to stay with them, and he came. He was wrapped in furs, and he roared all day about the garden, and blew the chimney-pots down. ‘This is a delightful spot,’ he said, ‘we must ask the Hail on a visit.’ So the Hail came. Every day for three hours he rattled on the roof of the castle till he broke most of the slates, and then he ran round and round the garden as fast as he could go. He was dressed in grey, and his breath was like ice.

‘I cannot understand why the Spring is so late in coming,’ said the Selfish Giant, as he sat at the window and looked out at his cold white garden; ‘I hope there will be a change in the weather.’

But the Spring never came, nor the Summer. The Autumn gave golden fruit to every garden, but to the Giant’s garden she gave none. ‘He is too selfish,’ she said. So it was always Winter there, and the North Wind, and the Hail, and the Frost, and the Snow danced about through the trees.

Winter is definitely here in my garden but not in my being.

A part of me loves this kind of cold, wild weather, although I loathe the destruction and the bleakness as it continues for days on end. No matter what it does remind me that I am alive. I feel new things. I become more aware. I realise that life is full of possibilities and opportunities. It also reminds me that forces far greater than you and I exist, and we should not take them for granted.

I am also reminded, after a long week, of the natural destruction that occurs at the hands of human beings. I have said it before and I’ll say it again: Why are people so mean to one another? Why do people get pleasure in inflcting either physical or psychological pain on others? Why do people feel they have to put others down to feel good about themselves? Why do we measure ourselves against others? Why do we care what others think? Why do we never feel that we are good enough or that what we have is enough? Why do we always want more? Why can’t we be happy and satisfied with who we are and where we are at today?

So many of us are rich beyond compare when we look at our lives and how we are able to live them. There are millions of people around the world who would give anything to have what many of us take for granted.

We create winters in our own lives. We don’t need the weather to do it for us. This is a choice we make.

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