Cold Sabbath Day at the Church O’ The Pines

HERE AT THE CHURCH O’ THE PINES IT IS COLD. The sunshine and increasing daylight hours say Spring, but the air temperature insists on arguing. The Father of Waters is still ice-locked.
But we know. Sparky the Cardinal begins singing in the vine outside the bedroom window in the pitch blackness of zero-dark-thirty, unable to wait for church services to begin. The geese are hollering as they fly up and down the river, waiting for the first leads to appear so they can stake their homestead claims. We hear reports from shirttail relatives that the ‘boys of summer,’ the turkey vultures, have appeared downstream in southeast Minnesota, soaring on the thermals. Bluebirds have been spotted as well, and someone heard a sandhill crane. The antique barometer on my office wall says the air pressure is very high today ( as my old radio friend Steve Cannon used to say, “The pressure is immense!”) In any case, the high, bright blue dome of the sky and the still, church sanctuary air are in agreement–high pressure, clear skies, cool temps.

The long and winding lane into the church grounds is icy and slippery, but just a day or two of the warm sun will melt the frozen surface, and we will deal with muddy ruts instead. Happily. We know via reports from Osprey Wilds Environmental Center and from friends Steve and Elaine Thrune here on the Mississippi that the maple sap is flowing, a time of celebration, known in the old Ojibwa language as Ishgigamizige—giizis. Anyway, maple syrup time. This is also known as the Crow Moon when our rambunctious black-coated friends of the air are especially active and vocal, their cawing signaling the end of winter. We believe them. And we are ready. Good Sabbath to all!

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