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Frigid temperatures are just a matter of perspective

January 25, 2009
By SANDY MICKELSON, Messenger staff writer

When does it happen that something bad becomes something good because something else was worse?

Case in point: Tuesday after lunch the sun warmed hard-packed snow enough to make slush, and sitting out of the wind actually made you - that everyman you, not you in particular - feel warm and cozy. I looked at my husband and said, "This is such a beautiful day."

My car thermometer showed 20 degrees.

That's 12 degrees below freezing. Below freezing.

And it was such a beautiful day.

That's perspective, people - perspective. After 20 degrees below zero, 20 above zero seems wonderfully warm even though it slid in 12 degrees below the freezing mark. Twenty degrees is cold, but it seems good because 20 below zero is worse.

Tuesday's inauguration is a lot like that. Democrats are happy; Republicans aren't. But everybody is excited because President Barack Obama made history as the nation's first black president.

That passes perspective. It stands as a national achievement and should be treated as such. Hopes, dreams and wishes solidify. It's reality at its best. And it highlights "one of democracy's greatest gifts - the peaceful transfer of power." I wish I'd written those words, but I didn't. I read them in our front-page story about the inauguration.

I expect the swearing-in ceremony Tuesday will remain in the minds of most Americans like the assassination of President John F. Kennedy did. They'll remember what they were doing at the precise moment Obama took the oath of office.

Over at Citizens Central senior center, a group of friends gathered at a table directly in front of the television. They'd sent Jo Monson ahead to save their spots so they could sit with best advantage for this historic moment.

They'd also come for lunch, but that was secondary to watching the inauguration.

For Monson, the day was doubly exciting - she turned 79 years old.

"I was born on inauguration day," she said. "It's always my birthday."

She didn't say, however, whether she had considered the inauguration hubbub as part of her birthday celebration when she was a child.

I have a friend born on the Fourth of July who as a child thought fireworks set off every year were just for her. And a friend born on St. Patrick's Day hated the color green and thought people were making fun of her on her birthday because everybody wore green.

It's all in perspective, don't you know.

If Monson had been in Washington, D.C., during any inauguration, someone could have sung "Happy Birthday" to her. And the family of anyone born on the Fourth of July could have set off fireworks as a birthday present. There's nothing to say about wearing green if you're not a leprechaun.

It's all in perspective, no matter how cold it is or isn't.

So long friends, until the next time when we're together.

Contact Sandy Mickelson at (515) 573-2141 or



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