Dear Friends,

There are times, not many, but there are times, when I think, “Why do I live here?” I have brother who lives in San Diego. I have another who lives in Houston. And I know what people say to assure themselves, “I prefer the cold over an earthquake or a hurricane.” But when it’s 10 degrees below wind chill, such comments are cold comfort indeed.

Beautiful Western New York

We live here because it’s home. It’s a beautiful place. Summer in Western New York is a less-tropical paradise. It’s paradise because of the green splendor and warm river and shimmering lakes. But it's also paradise because you enjoy warmth so much more when you have felt the cold. And is it really even that cold? Try visiting Sweden this week. It’s colder and darker. Drive up to Quebec this weekend. Remember, to Canada, this is Florida. There is an entire nation north of us. We can handle the chill.

So let’s handle it. Remember the next time you pass an ugly strip mall in Florida or Tuscon, everything is beautiful in the snow. The magic of winter is a blessing. My mother used to point out the shiny surface of the snow, saying “Look, there are diamonds in the snow.”

Snow can be difficult

Trust me, I understand that snow is challenge for most of us. I had a woman come into my office this week, shivering. She was an elderly woman who was threatened by her neighbors about not shoveling her walk. They told her they were going to report her to Town Hall. She told me, “I can’t do it. I just am not strong enough.” Code enforcement told her it was her responsibility. It is. But it’s a responsibility she is absolutely unable to fulfill, and such an answer is callous.

I told her I would shovel it. I am leery even writing this, because I don’t want to get into a situation where I have to shovel half of Grand Island. But here’s the thing. We had a little Grand Island miracle. The newly elected Town Councilman Pete Marston heard the chatter, and stuck his head into my office and said “I’ll do it.” And then I wrote about it on Facebook. Everyone decries social media, but it can be a powerful force. Within a few hours, we had dozens of people volunteering to shovel the walks of those in need.

Wonderful neighbors

Government can never fix everything. Our resources are limited. But together, looking at each other as fellow Islanders, fellow Americans, and neighbors, we can look out for each other. We must. I know it’s after Christmas, but all of you good folks who got together and shared your willingness to serve was definitely a little bit of It’s a Wonderful Life. Indeed it is a Wonderful Life, especially ins snowy Western New York, which glistens like a silver and sky blue ornament in winter.

Stay warm!

Highest regards,

Nate McMurray