The whining winter winds of Wisconsin are whistling through the
bedroom window which I can’t quite get closed. The messages
they bring send a shiver down my spine, as I contemplate the
stretch of winter still ahead. That is until 1 think of the plucky
penguins of the Arctic and the Antarctic area.
For a period of two months during the cold and dark of the
Antarctic winter, the male Emperor Penguin goes without food as he
incubates the one single egg which is to bring forth the offspring
of himself and his white-vested mate.
In other species of penguins the time is shared by both male and
female. They may change as often as twice a day. While in other
families of penguins the eggs are laid in rough nests of stones and
bits of vegetation. Over these the brooding bird lies flat to keep
the eggs warm and bring forth their young. This is hardly
liberation for either parent.
One can but marvel at the instincts of such creatures. Their
constant enemies are the Elephant Seals which lumber up out of the
water, and often crush their nests and eggs as they haul their
heavy bodies around on the rocky, frozen ground.
For Penguins, such as the Emperors, the seal is not such a
threat. They keep their lone egg warm in a fold of skin just above
their feet. These remain up-right, back to the biting wind,
patiently waiting for the arrival of a living little one. They
often stand near moving water so they can assuage their thirst. And
there are the varieties of penguins equipped with extra insulation
so they can move about during the incubation period.
Surely it is good to remember the penguins when I am disliking
winter. Suddenly I find myself being very grateful for a warm
house, and ample food. The thought of a satisfying supply for
anyone’s sweet tooth was brought home to me recently as we
traveled toward New Jersey.
We were getting mile-weary, and running out of conversation as
we gained on a huge truck traveling ahead of us. Sleepily I gazed
at the back of that tank truck to see if I might discern its
‘Liquid chocolate!’ I exclaimed, coming wide awake in an
instant. ‘Not really! Liquid chocolate!’ Somehow I
couldn’t conceive of a huge tank truck full of yummy smooth
chocolate. It made me suddenly hungry for a chocolate bar, crammed
with crunchy nuts.
Just a few miles back we had passed a truck laden with breaded
fish. The power of suggestion was working over-time. Fish and
chocolate covered nuts are two of my favorite foods. It wasn’t
too long since we had eaten breakfast, but suddenly I was painfully
hungry. And, of course fighting overweight.
And now, as I remember the incident, I have decided to like the
winter, and make good use of the extra time it affords. Just as I
wasn’t hungry until the chocolate and fish were advertised
before me, why should I dislike winter because that is all there is
The penguins are much wiser than I. There on those frozen
beaches they accept the never ending cold. There they fulfill their
destiny. There they carry on without complaint.
This trip we have taken to visit two of our sons in New Jersey,
and two daughters along the way, also brought other things into
focus. We were taken to Philadelphia to see the planetarium, and
were shown the Christmas Story against the backdrop of the
star-studded sky. In the midst of this large city, so heavily
peopled with Christmas shoppers, was this quiet interval of
wonder-One felt all alone in the middle of many viewers. It was
almost magical in the friendly darkness as the rich music came
forth, and the pleasant voice of the narrator began this ageless
Winter brought this! The beginning of winter! And we attended a
Christmas party for ministers of the Southern District of the State
of New Jersey. Our second son is a pastor. Cy Cook and The
Senators, a singing group from Pensacola, Florida entertained us. I
brought home one of their records to warm us through the cold
months. Mr. B says I am wearing it out too fast. But it has such
pleasant memories for reviewing.
On our way toward home we stopped off in Naperville, Illinois,
to visit our oldest daughter and her family. One of the grandsons
was ready to leave for his afternoon kindergarten class just as we
arrived. I thought he seemed unusually eager to be off. I soon
learned the reason. It was the very afternoon of their Christmas
party! Our daughter was supplying and serving refreshments to the
class and I was promptly invited to go with her. But that
In the evening the teenage group of singers and instrumentalists
Ginni leads, in their church, had plans as well. This group, plus
this Grandma, braved the extremely biting winds of a downtown city
to bring a message of God’s love, in song, to a mission in
Aurora, Ill. If I didn’t count my blessings after that
experience, I would be ungrateful, indeed. But what a time I had
keeping up with their young vigor as they sped down those city
streets from where we had parked the cars. Ginni pulled at my arm
with urgent intent. ‘We can’t be left behind, here,
Mother,’ she half shouted. ‘It isn’t safe.’
‘Well I’m not sixteen, you know,’ I huffed and
puffed back at her. But we made it.
Our other son in Jersey is working with young boys in a form of
Christian scouting in his off hours from his job as conductor on
the Pennsylvania Rail-road. The youngest daughter, along our
traveling way lives at Racine, Wisconsin. She is a third grade
So it is that we are fortified for winter by happy memories. We
even attended a Gospel Rock Concert, where I sat pitying my ears
and worrying about the imperiled hearing of these young
That is one thing the patient penguins don’t have to fret
about. Their young can grow up in majestic and frigid quietness.
And I can go on crocheting on my granny afghan, hooking in all
these varied memories, along with some great winter reading. I have
come to a sudden conclusion. WINTER IS WONDERFUL!