This stretch of sub-zero temperatures and heavy snowfall are reminders of the fact that Nature is an unconquerable force. We think our snow plows and space heaters will get us through winter until one of these storms strikes. Then we hunker down for a few days in our warm houses and watch the forecasts on TV, hoping the power won’t go out and that we bought enough milk for the duration.

I went to Walmart to pick up a few groceries this morning. I was amazed at how barren some of the shelves were. At first I wondered if they were going out of business. Then I realized that other customers had ‘raided’ the store prior to the cold and snow and that normal shipments had probably been delayed. It made me think, ‘What did our ancestors do?’

I have seen the programs on the Discovery channel about modern families living in the remote locations of Alaska. In the fall they start planning and preparing for winter. They harvest all their crops, chop as much wood as experience teaches them they will need for heating, and find ingenious ways to store food so that it stays fresh. They also do as much hunting and fishing as they can before the snow comes. And they trade and share food items with neighboring families so they all have a variety. Theirs is a difficult life but for our ancestors it was even more of an issue of life or death.

Our ancestors may have had log cabins, or tents or lived in caves. They too had to plan for the winter just as the Discovery channel families. But our ancestors had fewer tools to use and none of our technology. I’m sure they knew tricks and shortcuts we never thought of and used every one of them to help their families survive. And they relied on the other families in their tribe or social group. Everyone helped everyone else. They had to. There was no other way to survive.

Our ancestors were hardy, brave, clever and determined. If they hadn’t been, we wouldn’t be here today. Here’s to our ancestors!

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