If a photograph can convey temperature, doesn’t this one say two below zero, with a wind chill of twenty below? There’s something about the crispness of that clear sky and the sight of the smoke seeming to freeze in place. Wisconsin is in the grips of a bitter cold snap, and chances are it’s really cold where you are as well, unless you’re reading this on the beach in Caracas. If you’re like me, you can’t wait for that mercury to head up again – but our friend Paula was saying tonight that she actually loves this kind of weather, and as she talked about it I almost found myself rethinking my opinion. But while she finds this weather to be invigorating – to the point where she was outside today, walking the dog, for a couple of hours – I find that walking out into this cold feels a little too much like being hit in the face with a cattle prod.
Whatever hassles or headaches you are experiencing in the midst of this deep freeze, you’re lucky compared to the Carthage College Wind Ensemble. They were supposed to fly out of O’Hare International Airport at the crack of dawn Friday – destination: Japan! The original scenario was for them to arrive at the airport at 4:30 am – a.m. in this case stands for Awful Misery – in order to make their flight on time. Then the airline requested that they actually show up thirty minutes earlier still . . . 4 am . . . so they had to depart from the Carthage campus at 3 am. That’s 3 am in the middle of a Wisconsin wintery cold snap. If that was me, I would really regret that I had ever take up the trombone. But it gets worse. They dutifully arrived at O’Hare at 4 am, went through the lines, etc. – only to find that their flight had been delayed because of mechanical difficulty. So they waited and waited and waited and waited and waited – until finally in the early afternoon, they received the discouraging news that their flight to Japan was cancelled.
Some of the band members who live relatively close to O’Hare chose to head home – and in at least one case, a band member invited several compatriots to join him at home for a Deep Freeze Slumber Party. But most of the band members climbed on a bus and journeyed back to Carthage to try the whole thing one more time today. So this morning, 3 am, with a wind chill of twenty below zero, they loaded the bus again and headed off to O’Hare for Round Two. And fortunately, there were no bad surprises this time around and at last report they were on their way to Japan.
When Dr Ripley was telling me about this yesterday afternoon, he was actually chuckling about it – and more than anything he was so pleased with how well the students weathered the day’s turbulence. And I wasn’t surprised- several years ago when I toured with the band for their 125th anniversary, I was really amazed and delighted at how businesslike and mature they were. (Choir tour so often felt like fifty soap operas playing simultaneously. And I say that, of course, as a singer and a choir director. The band seemed to operate under the motto of “Just Do It” and boy, that makes life so much easier.) Anyway, they were wonderful troopers. . . and no doubt that had a lot to do with Dr Ripley himself, who personifies grace under fire maybe better than anyone I know. More on that another day.
Wishing you warmth wherever you are as you read this – – -and wishing the Carthage Wind Ensemble smooth sailing/ busing/ flying from here on as they visit the amazing nation of Japan.