One of the neat things about serving in Americorps is that you have a smallish number of discretionary volunteer service that you can do for which you get hours. Today, I spent the day racking up a few of those hours working on a Women’s Build house for Habitat for Humanity, in a Habisac (one of those HFH cul-de-sac arrangements) near my home.
Now, patient and long-time readers will remember that one of the reasons why I chose Project POWER over HFH for my second Americorps gig was the fact that, being a geek, the out of doors is not necessarily my friend – specifically cold weather. In that above-linked post, I recall those not-so-halcyon days thusly:
So here I am, outside in nasty, cold winter weather (snow, slushy drizzle, 35 degree freezing mist, knife-edge wind) all day, 6 days a week. I’m cold, tired, sore, muddy, hungry and I can’t feel my fingers and toes. For months on end. As the old saw goes, at first I thought I was going to die, then I was afraid I would’t. We burned scrap wood and trash to keep warm (and as it got colder, those scraps got bigger and bigger!). By the time it began to warm up, I was spending most of my day on brain-dead auto-pilot just trying to push through to quitting time. Gah…Even after summer came, there were a few toes that I couldn’t feel most of the time. That lasted for a year or two after and I was afraid I’d done permanent damage.
Anyway, I thought long and hard before signing up for even a day’s worth of HFH work, but hell – why not? For the past several weeks spring had really set in – it’d been sunny and warm, reaching up into the upper 70’s and even a few low 80’s. And besides, they were scheduled to be doing trim and cabinets on the day I was considering, so I would be mostly indoors anyway. It’d be fun! And it’d be a chance to replace my lingering memories of cold, nasty days on the worksite with a day full of warm, sunny spring weather spent doing good and meeting new people.
Ahem. In case you haven’t been watching the news lately, the mother of all late arctic fronts just came to NC for a visit this past week. It’s been cold. And by cold I don’t mean back down into the 50’s “gee, I think I’ll have to wear a coat today” chilly. I mean bone-chilling, toe-nipping seriously wintery weather – down to the teens for more than one night, getting up into the 40’s if we’re lucky with a nasty, biting wind and even some snow.
Yes snow. We got the most snow here we’d had all year just this week. Fruit crops across the state have been devastated – between 80% and 100% losses on this year’s apples, peaches, strawberries and other summer fruits. Beekeepers are having commercial pollination contracts canceled across the board (and struggling to keep their bees alive, since most of the “hold-over” flowering trees like the tulip poplar that keep them alive until the fruit trees flower got hit hard, too). It’s been declared a regional natural disaster. There will be Federal relief funds involved.
And today, it was not only cold. It was overcast. It was windy. It was misting, fading into a steady light drizzle. And surprise, surprise, I ended up working outside in it most of the day finishing up porch railings. Did some painting, then spent half an hour back outside cleaning paint supplies under a splashy gush of cold water from the main tap.
Spent the entire day cold, wet and miserable.
Ah, yes. Just the way I remembered it.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I loves me some Habitat for Humanity – they do good work that few others are doing as well and on such a massive scale and I’m proud to be even a little part of what they do. And I can hardly begrudge a day of service to help out those who are working their tails off trying to make a good home for their families, no matter the weather. And I even managed to have fun. Really, I did.
But, man. Cold, windy, misty winter weather just sucks, I don’t care how good a cause you’re out in it for, or how much you want to be there.
Anyway. That was my day. I wish it could have been better, but at least I managed to do some good and meet some cool (well, cold, really) people. And hey, I can still feel my toes.
Every last frozen one of them.