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Baby, It's Cold In Ashe County


I don’t know about y’all, but it’s just a little chilly up here on the hill.. By the time I got around to looking at the weather, it was saying 17℉ with a wind chill of 3℉!  That wind was just a'roaring up here all night.

Believe you me y’all, when you’re working outside you count windchill! Ask a few farmers, construction workers, mail carriers…

I once had my toes frostbitten running my Asheville Citizen-Times paper route in -40 windchill. Windchill counts when you’re riding around with the windows down! 

I couldn’t help but remember what Jeannie Berry was telling us the other day about the 3 homeless encampments in Ashe County. How she collects refrigerator boxes from Lowes for shelters because they are double walled. How she distributes boots and tarps and sleeping bags… 

 I also couldn’t help but feel a lot of gratitude as well as some guilt that, due to my life circumstances and a lot of luck,  I am sitting in a strong, well built house, in front of a cozy, warm fire with a hot cup of coffee and a lot of insulation between me and that wind. Thanking God for the Jeannie’s of the world that are boots on the ground, taking care of folks who need her. 

What about our brothers and sisters who are trying to stay warm in their refrigerator boxes and tents, cars and campers, blankets and benches… while that wind permeates their snowy wet clothes and chills them to the bone. 

We kind of live in a time now, even in Ashe County, where we go from heated house to heated car to heated store or office…

Many of us never really think about wind chill. 

Truth is though...

You just can’t get away from that kind of cold. 

When I asked my friend Debbie Grubb’s advice about running for Ashe County Commissioner back this spring, expressing how terrifying the idea was… Boy did she ever have something to say!

“Scary ? Scary? You think that's scary? Let me tell you what scary is.
Scary is a little young’un needing to go potty in the middle of the night and their Mommy and Daddy trying to get them out of the car so they can pee by the side of the road. 
Now, THAT’S scary. 
Having a few mean things said about you by mean people who don’t understand the problem? That’s nothing! 
You have been given this opportunity and you’d better take it ! “ 

Well, that right there solidified my YES. Thank God for the Deb’s of this world, she has always been a cheerleader for those who have troubles! Her wise words continue to resonate. She has that way about her.

At the time she said it, May or June it was, somewhere in there, the days were getting longer and the nights were getting warmer, and as bad as that sounded, I don’t think it resonated with me right then. til I woke up at 3am with the wind whipping and I thought about that little girl in Deb’s story, and her mama…

And 3℉

And 17℉

And poverty

And all the helpers 

And all the mommies and babies living in cars

The lack of affordable homes

The lack of resources

Trailer walls that don’t stop the wind 

and furnaces that drive electric bills into a

range that is disastrous

Old houses with leaky windows

and no insulation

Heating fuel prices, again disastrous

Refrigerator boxes

Human beings 

How do we allow this ?

We say things like:

They’ve made some bad choices

God is teaching them a lesson

They must have some moral failing to be in this situation

There, but for the grace of God, go I !?!?

Whew law! Did you ever unpack that one??

It’s the worst of all, I think. 

Such an easy platitude that trips off our tongues, makes us feel better when we see someone hurting, it keeps us feeling good about our own life, implies that those of us who are so “blessed”  are somehow given more grace than others.

In reality though, seems like an easy out for us to somehow blame folks living in bad circumstances, a quick “God loves me more because I’m good”. 

Don't know about you, but I sure have said it!

"There but for the Grace of God ... where should we go to lunch?"

Can we work together to alleviate some of the pain, some of the brokenness in our little corner, the coolest corner, of the world? 

Much Love, NBW 

December !9, 2023

Thought for the day from my “Word of the Day” email (thanks Mark! )

You must protest /

 It is your diamond duty / 

Ah but in such an ugly time /

 The true protest is beauty.

 -Phil Ochs, folksinger (19 Dec 1940-1976)

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