A Matter of Perspective

Today is the second day in a row that my daughter’s school has been canceled due to inclement weather and the eighth day this entire school year. Her school district is known for not having snow days when other schools in the area all are off because of snow, but this year is different.  It is certainly a coincidence that my work in progress A Coward’s Solace is situated at Valley Forge, and this winter has been quite severe for this part of the United States. It is also not a coincidence that even though this winter has been cold and snowier than we have had in quite a few years, in respect to other winters of the past, this winter really isn’t so bad.

The past few winters have been extremely mild for us here. Last year, we almost didn’t have a winter and wouldn’t have had if we had not had snow in March. Many of us who were around in the 1970s could tell some interesting stories about how much snow we had back then. Come to think of it, California was having a drought back then as well. Weather does cycle through dry-wet, cold-hot cycles.

Weather Report at Valley Forge 1775-1782

The winter at Valley Forge was a rough one. But, a winter encampment for their second season at Morristown, New Jersey was their worse as far as the actual weather was concerned. The Valley Forge Encampment was difficult, not so much because the weather was severe, but because the soldiers lacked proper clothing, housing, and meals. There were seven winters during the Revolutionary War.

The winters could be rated on the following scale: severe, moderate and mild.

1775-1776 Moderate
1776-1777 Moderate
1777-1778 Moderate
1778-1779 Mild
1779-1780 Severe
1780-1781 Mild
1781-1782 Severe

The Encampment saw two severely cold periods. The end of December with a low of 6 Degrees and the end of March with a low of 8 Degrees. The low in January reached 12 Degrees and February was 16 Degrees. The troops arrived at Valley Forge on the 19th of December and eight days later, the deepest single snow of the season fell, which was followed by the severest cold. They were plagued by periods of cold, which would thaw and then refreeze. You can imagine the muddy and messy drilling in that kind of weather.

Three continued snowstorms occurred that winter, but none of them were blizzards. More moderate to heavy covering. Most of the snow occurred around February 7, 1778.  Dr. Muhlenberg reported on February 8, 1778 “There was heavy snowfall. Deeper now than we have had all winter.” However it was washed away by a heavy rains within the next 2 to 3 days. The heavy snowfall of the 8th, compounded by the heavy rainfall brought flooding conditions making roads impassable.

Between the cold and freezing temperatures, there were even some above average warm temperatures during the encampment when some thaws occurred. These occurred around Christmas and then three times in January lasting several days.

Living in inadequate temporary log huts built during foul weather and lacking proper clothing built during some foul weather,  caused the winter to be unpleasant for the Continental Army. It was not the severity of the weather. For us, the severity of our weather is based on the fact that most of our recent winters were much more mild than this year. Because of the poor living conditions at Valley Forge, the weather seemed worse than when they overwintered in much better living conditions in New Jersey even though the weather was much more severe. Let’s just hope our mild winters return next year and that we continue to have warm clothes, good food, and warm homes.

Proving My Worth So Others Will Believe It

“Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.”—     Theodore Roosevelt

When I started this blog, I didn’t know where I was going with it. I just knew that I had things to share. I simply decided that I was going to allow my words in this blog take me wherever they would. I have taken these words of Theodore Roosevelt to heart. I am doing what I can, with what I have, where I am. I am not stressing about it, I am not worried about my next post, I am simply writing what I have to say when I have it to say. I am writing what I know.

All my life I have had it thrown into my face all the reasons that I couldn’t do something. In some ways it made it easy. I couldn’t do something because. . . whatever, and that was that. Life went on mediocre as ever. It was always, someday, maybe, but not now. Those excuses kept me in my place. What I wanted was somewhere out in the future because the excuses were there to protect me from danger. Oh, I have had my moments when I would step out of my shell. Like the time when I was twenty. I quit my boring job and went to California on a bus and arrived in LA at 3 am and didn’t know a soul there. That was an adventure. I stayed there two days and those two days changed my life, for a while, anyway. For the next six months I focused on what I hoped would be a writing career, but my parents said that I needed to get real and get a job. After a few months of hearing that, I got the job. I allowed myself to be pushed back down into that box. I’m certain you know what box I am talking about,  the box was labeled “The Right Thing to Do”. The problem was, I had been outside that box and had a glimpse of what life could be if I allowed myself to do what I could with what I have where I am. I have never liked that box. I’ve never really fit into it.  I do however like what happens to me when I decide to step out of the box to discover what I am capable of doing. Perhaps I should take a page out of the book of our founding fathers and recognize that before others will see who we are, we have to defend where we see ourselves.

Today in History As It Relates to the American Revolution

This day in history in 1783, Spain recognized United States Independence from Great Britain. Although the United States officially declared its independence from Great Britain, other countries didn’t recognize the country until years later. France was the first to recognize it. France officially recognized US Independence on February 6, 1778 and sent ammunition and supplies to the new country in order to help the US secure its right to call itself a free and independent country. Spain recognized the United States when they recognized that the war was over and the United States had won its right to freedom.

Declaration-of-Independence

The official date that the US declared independence from Great Britain was July 4, 1776. Other countries did not officially recognize it until years later.

Two days after Spain recognized the United States as an independent country, Sweden also recognized the US. Great Britain, of course, officially recognized the United States as an independent country on September 3, 1783 when both Great Britain and the United States signed the Treaty of Paris.

Other countries did not recognize the US until the Americans had decided for several years that they were separate from Great Britain. Perhaps this is a lesson that I also must learn. I must declare my independence and see myself outside of the box that keeps me from being the best that I can be.