Pine Bluffs Post - Serving all of Eastern Laramie County since 1908

The darkest day of the year

 


If my late father had a favorite winter day, it would have occurred on Dec. 22, 2015, this year. That was the day when the nights started getting shorter and the days started getting longer.

As he got older and entered the long dark winter of his own lifetime, I think those ever-longer nights and ever-briefer days would remind him of his own life slipping away.

He always looked forward to Dec. 22. He would have a spring in his step as he got up early to mark the fact that we had all made it through one more dark winter season. “The future is going to be much brighter, no doubt about it!” he might be saying if he were still alive.

And now that I am in the winter of my own life, it is easy to identify with these same feelings. So with that introduction, let me say that today is a great day. Yes, the nights are shorter. And the days are longer.

Alas, here in Wyoming, we still might have four more months of dark, cold winter weather.

And when you talk about winter, as I write this, portions of the state’s major highways are closed and people are starting to get impatient.

Over 1,000 semi-trailer trucks were stranded in Rawlins and thousands of college students at the University of Wyoming in Laramie were trying to get home. Cody Beers of the Wyoming Dept. of Transportation said there were more than 5,000 semi-trailer trucks stranded in Wyoming during road closures around Dec. 17.

Now when you discuss things that are dark and mysterious, then there is the odd Wyoming economy.

The expression “darkest days” has come to mean more than just a winter solstice, what with the statewide economic problems that are occurring. Is it just a coincidence that the word – depression – is used to describe both a personal emotional meltdown and a state economic meltdown?

Our legislators have been putting in the miles crisscrossing the state attending meetings and trying to identify ways to deal with the economic crisis they will be dealing with when they meet early next year in Cheyenne.

Shortfall numbers ranging as high as $600 million will put the brakes on a number of good projects. More layoffs are also predicted.

Legislators and Gov. Matt Mead will be trying to figure out what plans to cut and what programs to reduce. There will be plenty of pain to go around.

I would offer them advice: if you want your solution to work on a universal scale, you must spread the pain around evenly.

Most everyone is willing to make sacrifices if they believe others are doing it too.

I thought Mead’s decision to hold off on the $300 million remodeling of the State Capitol to be prudent. But what a pain after all the time getting this program set up and ready to go.

It should be stressed that this is not a time to just go across-the-board cuts.

One example is tourism. Although there is cost to promote tourism, it also is a huge income generator.

Another example includes health programs, which are required by the federal government. Need to be careful with your cuts there, too.

But I have some good news to report, too.

I am writing this on a Sunday afternoon a week ago, after witnessing quite an outpouring of good cheer.

More than 250 teeming baskets of food, books, toys and games were distributed to needy families here in the Lander area by a smiling group of Elks members who tackled the job cheerfully in chilly temperatures.

Yes, it was cold, but you would never know it by the looks on the faces of these folks.

For many of them it was a three-generation event with grandpa, a son and a grandchild tagging along making sure the deliveries were made.

What a great lesson in giving about what this season is all about.

Folks all across the state are busy helping people in need during this holiday season.

And if you think there are not any needy folks around, did you see the story about the farmer south of Cheyenne in Colorado a few years ago who offered free vegetables to folks who came to his farm and dug them up?

More than 10,000 people showed up. The traffic jam stretched for miles up and down I-25.

Yes, there are needs out there during these dark days of December.

Check out Bill Sniffin’s columns at http://www.billsniffin.com. He is a longtime Wyoming journalist from Lander who has written six books. His newest is “Wyoming at 125,” which is now on sale at fine bookstores. His books are available at http://www.wyomingwonders.com.

 

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