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Pay no attention to the people behind the curtain

Monday, December 26, 2005

Here I am...in the North


I am another of Jay's guests. My name is Sarah Fadness, Jay's friend in "real life." I met Jay at a MTEA meeting about two or three years ago. I instantly loved his politics.

When Jay invited me to blog, I was surprised and pleased to be among such a distinguished group. I did think, however, that I am less qualified than some of the others, but Jay convinced me that I can talk from the middle school teacher point of view, give my perspectives about the nineth grade "bubble," or about the school board. I certainly know middle school, and I have an opinion about nineth graders and why there may be a bubble, and I attend as many school board meetings as I can...so I am qualified in some way to put something out here.

But today I write from the northern part of the state--from Chippewa Falls, where my parents live. Most of my relatives live in this general area, which at times makes me unique among my friends in the Milwaukee area, who often grew up right there. (I say "at times" because there is always an exception, and right now I can think of two friends who grew up in Chicago.)

I find it difficult to write about school today. Every time I look at the papers I need to correct, I get a stomach ache. I've given some thought to what I would like to write about, and I am ignoring them all for today.

Since I am writing from the Great North, I am going to mention how balmy the weather is today. I wonder (actually, I think I know) what it means when I am almost on the very latitude that would put me 3/4 of the way to the North Pole from the equator...and it is December 26th...and the snow is melting. I wonder if we need more science or study time, or could it be that there is something to this "Global Climate Change." (I don't call it Global Warming, because any time the temperatures dip below about 20 degrees, some smarty makes a remark about how it just can't be true, and they wish global warming would hurry up and arrive. That joke is not funny unless it is at least -40.)

I know I am getting old, and I am sure that time plays tricks on all of our minds, but I do remember a time when we would get snow in November, and it would stay put until March. Sure, there was that really mild January in the early 80s, but there were all those other winters when my family and I were sledding down gravel road hills in the country (yes, gravel road hills, covered with ice and snow, because it was northern Wisconsin where no one lived and it was that wintery), when my sister and I dug tunnels--not forts, but tunnels in the snow, and then there were snow days and getting-out-early-from-school-days...

My mom remarked at Christmas dinner that she heard that the climate change was speeding up so that in 2050, Wisconsin's climate would be like that of Arkansas today. I don't know her source, and I hope she's wrong. I love winter: the snow and yes, even the sub-zero temperatures (when I am inside). These are the things that keep our state balanced--snow is water (need I say more?), the low temperatures kill things...like germs, and mold, and bacteria, and insects. As we mess with this delicate balance, we play a dangerous game. We know we will lose, but we don't know exactly what the consolation prize is. All in all, this is a bad idea.

I'm sad that my cousins' children are not digging tunnels and that their snowmen are already melting. I'm also sad that as a nation, we don't seem to care. And, I certainly don't have an answer, although we should all do a little something (someone could choose to do a big something-Kyoto treaty, perhaps?).

Back in the last millinium, Jimmy Carter said we should turn the heat down a bit and wear a sweater. His ratings went down, but he was right. So, this evening, in a home where Jimmy Carter is given credit for his wisdom, I will add a sweater, turn off the computer, and enjoy the company of my parents who have always kept the heat low. I didn't think so then, but I guess they knew what they were doing all along.

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