“Such heaps of broken glass to sweep away
You’d think the inner dome of heaven had fallen.”
Robert Frost, “Birches” (1916)
It has been a mite cold here in Texas, but I want to assure you that we are bearing this boreal blast with the fortitude one expects from stout Smiths. A fireplace and (until the other day) well-stocked woodshed helps. Also a domicile spared rolling blackouts because of proximity to Police Headquarters. When you get right down to it, the suffering of these stout Smiths has been limited to the prospect of some heavy gardening come spring.
Indeed, I must guiltily admit that I have personally benefitted from this monkey wrench in the machinery of Texas. All of my classes are on-line this semester, and for several weeks I have been up to my eyebrows converting lectures into videos that are fully scripted and profusely illustrated. I think Youth has enough to deal with without adding a requirement that they watch this old man stammer on Zoom. One youth, at least, agrees. He told me the other day that my videos were awesome because he can run them at 1.5 speed and get the wretched business over in three-quarters of the time. So all my careful vocal modulations sound just like Micky Mouse.
Another youth wrote the other day to say that she hadn’t yet managed to squeeze video viewing into her hectic schedule, and was wondering if this would affect her final grade. I wrote back telling her that it probably would not (slyly suppressing my supposition that video viewing would not help the likes of her).
This monkey wrench has been a boon to me because the I am not able to make videos as fast as my students are able not to watch them, and the ice storm has given me an extra week to get out ahead of my students’ not watching. Smith fortitude does not allow the futility of an endeavor to weaken the assiduity with which a Smith endeavors it. Quite the contrary. My zeal has always been inversely proportioned to my efficacy. That is why I am so outstandingly zealous.
The wisteria, elms and cypress tree outside my window are crystalline in the sun. An ice storm is very beautiful if you have nowhere to go, are legally shielded from blackouts, and have the wit (and woodshed) to keep Jack Frost out of your pipes. But they say that Auster, god of the south wind, will give a little puff this afternoon. Jack Frost will be banished, the crystal will crack, the munificent monkey wrench (to me) will be extracted, and the gears of Texas will grind again.