I remember, I remember Buffalo*
As you are no doubt aware, Buffalo got hit with a huge winter storm earlier this week.
It rolled in off the lake and muffled everything in a blanket of white.
By the time it was over, some places were buried under more than six feet of snow.
There’s a reason we always referred to Buffalo as the “city God forgot.” As of yesterday, the main highways going to the city were still closed. Seriously, how does one dig out of something like that?
Now that the snow has stopped and it has warmed up, they’re expecting rain, flooding, and roof collapses. Poor Buffalo. It makes me really grateful (that good Thanksgiving word) to live beyond the normal reach of lake effect snow. We only got about three inches.
But all this talk of snow has put me in mind of Robert Falcon Scott and his ill-fated expedition to reach the south pole.
Son #2 has recently been reading Scott’s diary and last letters, which he shared with me — stirring stuff and very sad. Once they realized they weren’t going to make it, they wrote letter after letter to their friends and relatives in the hope that someone would find their bodies and deliver the letters someday. In one of these Scott famously wrote:
but for my own sake I do not regret this journey, which has shown that Englishmen can endure hardships, help one another, and meet death with as great a fortitude as ever in the past. We took risks, we knew we took them; things have come out against us, and therefore we have no cause for complaint, but bow to the will of providence, determined still to do our best to the last … Had we lived, I should have had a tale to tell of the hardihood, endurance, and courage of my companions which would have stirred the heart of every Englishman. These rough notes and our dead bodies must tell the tale, but surely, surely, a great rich country like ours will see that those who are dependent on us are properly provided for.
Without exception, every one of Scott’s letters focused on what would become of the wives and children whom the expedition left behind. His greatest fear was that they should not have the means to survive and that the children would not get an appropriate education or chance to do well in life. Maybe Scott was not the most successful explorer, but he was certainly a really good guy.
As we head into Thanksgiving week, be grateful — that you are not doomed in some vast frozen landscape, that you and yours have food, warmth, and shelter, and perhaps most of all, that you don’t live in Buffalo!
Travel safely all you holiday travelers and that includes son #2 who is picking up son #3 from college in Vermont today (with sleet in the forecast). And for those who cannot be with family (son #1 and nieces?), may you at least get to relax a little with friends. You can always spend an afternoon re-reading Dual Personalities.
*”At the Hundredth Meridian”, The Tragically Hip