Dead of Winter.

Today is a snow day. I’ll get my boys home all day (the third day off this week). We’ll play and read and watch a movie and drink hot chocolate (cold for Asher). It will be a great day.
I love snow.
I love winter. No, I don’t. But the Pollyanna in me loves parts of winter. I love Christmas, I love hot chocolate, I love sweaters and scarves, and one other thing.

When I was growing up in Florissant we lived near the Desloge Mansion.

I would pass it every day on my way to school. But only in the winter, when all the leaves had fallen off of the trees and lie decaying on the ground, could you see the house from the road. It was something I looked forward to seeing on my bus rides in the cold winter months.

I met some of my high school friends at our old favorite coffee house a few weeks ago. So much has changed since I lived in Florissant, but nothing had changed about the Alaska Klondike Coffee Co. 

On my way home I took the chance to take a tour of my old house and our old stomping grounds, making sure to pass down Shackelford Road to glance at the mansion. Nothing had changed about the mansion either. Or at least nothing from my point of view: driving 35 miles an hour past the mansion that sits 7 football fields away…

There’s another house that can only be seen in the dead of winter on my route to church. In stark contrast to the Victorian mansion, a dilapidated shack sits engulfed in brush and vines just across from the gas station on Olive Street.

In the google maps picture there is no sign of anything beneath the full, thick leaves of the trees of summertime. The only hint from the side of the road is a chain-link fence that may have once deterred people from intruding upon the occupied house. But it is now, no barrier of the allure of an accessible shack hidden from the rest of the world.

Abandoned homes and buildings may be appealing to all sorts of delinquents, but why is it so appealing to me? There’s a hint of adventure. It’s surrounded by mystery and intrigue. What in the world makes someone completely abandon a home?

I imagine that it was once someone’s farmhouse. They lived in the house during the growing season. I imagine a woman wearing a blue flowered apron rushing around the kitchen, well before dawn, with fresh brown eggs and warm milk straight from a cow making a hearty breakfast for the hard working men in her house. In the winter months, when the leaves lie decaying on the ground in front of her house, she would pack up her family and move back to the big city to be closer to civilization.

When the Great Depression hit, the man of the house couldn’t take the pressure, so he trudged off to the farm house and hung himself there. The family couldn’t bare to ever go back, so they left the house to mother nature; to be taken over and hidden to the world by brush and thorns. A perfect image of their broken hearts being overtaken by grief and pain.

Or maybe the house was built in 1967 and was shared by a group of pilots as a kind of co-op residence when they had layovers in St. Louis. When the flood of 1993 damaged the house, it was abandoned. Since it had been paid for decades ago, it was left alone and forgotten.

Either way, I love how in winter, the veil of leaves get pulled back and hidden treasures are revealed.

It makes me think: what excess of “summer” is concealing hidden treasures within us? When all is pulled back, what is revealed? A mansion or a rundown old shack?

Do we need a sort of “winter” to drop the lush green leaves and let them decay on the ground in order to find out?

Summer seems to be the season of fun.  Things may be more relaxed, but we’re busy keeping busy all summer long aren’t we?  Do we need to take away the fun for a minute, get serious and examine what’s behind all of the brush?  Am I stretching the analogy too much here?  Probably.

What do you think?  What needs to be pulled away.  What will it take for you to examine your own heart?

 

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