Tag Archives: snow

“Ah, Winter! How Do I Love Thee?”


Ah, winter! How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.

Reason #1: Christmas usually comes during winter, thus Reason #1 by itself would more than tip the scales.

Reason #2: Christmas singing (where “yours truly” gets to croon Christmas tunes) comes, yes, indeed, during Christmas which . . . well, refer to Reason #1.

Reason #3: My favorite days tend to be days during which I get to spend at least a little time reading, drinking coffee or tea, and/or just breathing in front of our fireplace. (The only thing better than a good book is a good book in front of a fire.) Those days almost never come during summer; consequently, score a win for winter!

Reason #4: Nothing in nature is more beautiful than snow. And when, pray tell, does snow tend to fall? Bingo. Winter. (And snow falling on a mountain in winter? Perfect!)

Reason #5: Snow falling from the sky (though no moisture at all is falling from the sky this winter) is far superior to dust, dirt, real estate, and small animals flying across the sky. When weather prognosticators in our area talk about “spring-like conditions,” it’s usually code for “wind, dirt, and drought.”

Reason #6: Grass does not have to be mowed during winter. My yard never looks better than under a blanket of snow, and though brown grass is not beautiful, neither is it needy. Being able to ignore it gives me three extra hours a week to do stuff I’d rather do, like read and enjoy the fire. Oh, I love a nice green yard for a few months, but “few” is not eleven, and eleven would be insufferable. Winter is mower parole.

Reason #7: Valentine’s Day comes during winter. It is not, honestly, that I’m all choked up about that pseudo-holiday, but, much to my surprise, Cupid’s season has become a big one for me singing-wise. I love singing for joyful reasons, “for sentimental reasons,” and for lots of other reasons, and winter’s when I get to do a bunch of it.

Reason #8: Though the Olympic Games actually take place every two years, my very favorite edition is the Winter Olympic Games, which occur in . . . Yes. There’s never a time when I don’t enjoy watching skiing, bobsledding, snowboarding, and all the other amazing stuff folks do on frozen water. Give me food, drink, a fire, and these ice-based Olympic games, and I’m happy as a clam at high tide, as a pig in sunshine, as a ski jumper nailing a perfect landing after a near-miss with a Boeing 777. Snow-deprived here this year, I’m lovin’ it even more.

Reason #9: Our family’s annual ski trip (we’re not talkin’ water skiing, here) comes in . . . ditto. These reasons are not in order, or this one would be way higher!

Reason #10: Clear, crisp winter air is the best air you’ll ever breathe, paired very nicely with clear, crisp, star-kindled winter skies.

Thank God indeed, our Creator is Lord of all seasons and his joy is woven into them all. I just think he does some of his very best work in winter.


     You’re invited to visit my website at http://www.CurtisShelburne.com!


Copyright 2018 by Curtis K. Shelburne. Permission to copy without altering text or for monetary gain is hereby granted subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.

“For Everything There Is a Season”



Well, rats! My fire is out. I just looked up across the room and, no flame in the fireplace. A sad sight.

I confess, I laid the fire, lit the match, and quit paying attention. Instead of staring at the hearth, I was staring at a blank computer screen and wishing words would start appearing. Moments later, it seems, my fledgling fire fizzled.

A good fire in the fireplace is one of my favorite things. I like living in a place where we have real seasons, where fireplaces are not just decorative, and where I’m just a few hours away from the second most beautiful thing in nature: mountains. The first? Snow, of course. The fact that the two so often go together is nature tipping her hat in a dance of glorious gratitude to her Creator. (No, I don’t have cattle. If I did, my love of snow might be modified.)

Fact is, it’s been a wimpy winter. Sub-zero cold a few nights, yes, but otherwise puny. And don’t broadcast this, but as much as I love Sunday worship and as seriously as I believe that Christians who claim to be serious about Christ ought to try being serious about being in church . . . I always feel like any winter where we don’t get snowed out of Sunday morning church once during the season is a weak winter indeed.

I figure church-going folks like me who are tempted to be religiously hypocritical about their church attendance ought to get an opportunity on one Sunday a year to stay home and relax (in front of a fire) like non-church-going folks who are tempted to be religiously hypocritical about their nonattendance. No hypocrites (that’s all of us at times) are harmed in this once-a-year civilized exchange. And I could hardly be more thankful for our usual one Sunday a winter snow day. (If you think this shows I’m not religious enough to be a preacher, you’ll get no quarrel from me.) But the Lord who said, “The Sabbath was made for man and not man for the Sabbath” is neither the sort of Pharisee nor the sort of kill-joy who will begrudge us a snowy sabbatical.

Alas, no snow. The snow dragon that my grandkids know is hibernating under our front yard won’t get to rear his head this year. But even on a better year, snow melts, trees and lights get packed away, and winter bids adieu as some other sweet seasons swing onto the stage.

I know I’m living on borrowed time this year fire-wise. Oh, we’ll still have a cold spell. Count on it. At least one. A late one that fritzes foolish fruit trees. An Easter sunrise service where the sun rises but the mercury in the thermometer forgets to is not that unusual. And I remember a mid-March road-closing due to snow blowing across the highway so thick you couldn’t see. Even in spring, winter will get in a parting shot.

But, no doubt, it won’t be long until my wife issues her annual edict and the decorative candles slide back in where once roaring flames lived and danced and delighted my soul.

God’s age-old wisdom is that “for everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven” (Ecclesiastes 3). I figure that includes snow and green grass and birdies and falling leaves and . . .

Thank God for the beauty of them all!


     You’re invited to visit my website at http://www.CurtisShelburne.com!


Copyright 2017 by Curtis K. Shelburne. Permission to copy without altering text or for monetary gain is hereby granted subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.

An Icy Road Here Does Not Mean an Icy Road Everywhere


“Are you crazy?!”

That was the reaction of our Amarillo kids as my wife and I loaded up to head home on the Saturday after Thanksgiving.

“Do you not want these grandchildren you love so much to grow up with two sets of grandparents? Don’t drive home!”

Normally, we can make that trip blindfolded. The problem is boredom. But the problem Saturday was ice. Not snow. Freezing rain. Ice. Lots of it.

Did I mention it was Saturday? They come before Sundays. As a pastor (Protestant with kids!) I decided long ago that I’d vote for an even trade between Saturdays and Sundays. Just switch ’em.

I like Saturdays (except for Saturday nights), and I love what happens on Sundays (though I also love Sunday nights; they’re as far as you can get from Sunday mornings). I just think Saturdays (especially the nights) would be improved by following Sundays. I won’t bore you with all of my reasons for thinking such nonsense, but . . .

Christians would go to church whenever Sundays happened. (At least, as many of them as go to church now.) Pagans would still have what they count as two Saturdays and the two evenings before them on which to misbehave and create mayhem. So I can’t see that the switch would much alter anyone’s plans.

It won’t happen, of course. I doubt even a current presidential candidate who, for votes, would promise to turn the moon into cheesecake could make it happen.

So Sunday was barreling down the track like a runaway train. Chasing Saturday. And Saturday in Amarillo was covered in ice.

I’d spent an hour or two helping one son try to shovel ice off the driveway. Snow’s easier. Another son had been on duty driving a fire truck on the ice. No fun at all.

Interstate 40, heading west, had been closed. Nobody up north of Amarillo was going anywhere. Churches were canceling or altering service schedules.

I’d heard of ice-wrought power outages back home, 95 miles southwest, I wasn’t hearing anything about road closures, cancellations, etc.

So we loaded up and slid that direction. Slowly. Carefully. One lane most of the way. Then, about 30 miles out, some clearing.

I drove into the church parking lot to check things out and turn up the heaters inside. I’d been dreading getting to shovel more sidewalk ice. But . . .

But though it was cold, and ice was covering trees and roofs, the walks were mostly just moist or dry! I stopped. My wife and I gazed through the windshield, and I just said, “This feels weird.”

We’d waked up at the North Pole, but now . . .

God cares how we feel. But it’s a mistake to let “ice” in one patch of your life’s journey convince you that the whole universe is icy. Our view is skewed by the weather under our own hats. It’s wise to take our own view into account; it’s very foolish indeed to completely trust it.

Only our Creator sees reality perfectly clearly. If you’re navigating an icy road right now, you’d be wise to let him chart the course, deal with the storm, and get you home.



       You’re invited to visit my website at http://www.CurtisShelburne.com!



Copyright 2015 by Curtis K. Shelburne. Permission to copy without altering text or for monetary gain is hereby granted subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.

The Seasons Change, But the Lord of the Seasons Does Not


Seasons. I love living in a place where we get them all. (Altitude. That’s the ticket to ride if you want all four full on.)

I’m unrepentantly partial to the one that includes roaring fires, snow, and Christmas. But each holds its own particular hue and beauty, and I’m on mostly good terms with them all.

Seasons come. Seasons go. No surprise. But the changing colors, varying for each of us within the changing seasons, do surprise me a bit. It’s not just winter or summer or . . . It’s that particular time in winter or summer when you and yours . . .

I know what to expect, for example, as autumn gives way to winter. The candles lit too rarely residing “off-season” in the fireplace feebly reminding us that it is a place for fire, are pushed aside, packed up, and put away as wicks give way to logs and flickers give way to blazes. Every year in front of the hearth I celebrate as the fireplace gets down to the business God intended.

I’m more than willing to croon a tune in any season, but December brings the best opportunities to sing the best songs and make a little music particularly in step with His. Singing and joy are gifts of God all wrapped up together and never more beautifully than when we celebrate the Gift.

So in December, I sing and sing and . . . as we get further into the season, services multiply, preparatory candles are lit, hope and expectations rise up anew as (I always hope) snow falls down, the gifts pile up around the tree, and then, for me, a candlelight service or two, and Christmas Day, and suddenly, even as the twelve days are adding up, a bit of a new season comes within the season.

And that’s where I find myself, as I’m writing on this fifth day of Christmas. It’s deliciously cold. One good breath of air will remind you that you’re alive, and the smell of the burning oak and pinion makes you glad that you are. The kids and grandkids are coming in a few days, so gifts are still piled around the tree. The Christmas train at the tree’s base is becalmed by a blizzard of presents, but the grandkids will soon dig it out. And some good Methodist friends and colleagues who know about the twelve days of Christmas will, ere long, give me one more chance to sing its songs and help me gently tuck this season into bed yet again.

The task, I think, is to learn to let the Lord lead us into each season, and the seasons within them, with open hands and hearts, to learn their lessons anew, to savor their particular joys, and, on a more somber note, to hold on to his hope as we (not often, I pray) pass through dark times within some seasons that seem completely bereft of warmth. Winters of that sort no one likes, but—Lord, help us believe it when we can’t feel it—even their dark cold is no match for his warm light; one day it will be banished forever.

The seasons, the years, change. But walking with us through each season and every time within it, is the One who does not change. Thank God indeed!


    You’re invited to visit my website at http://www.CurtisShelburne.com!


Copyright 2015 by Curtis K. Shelburne. Permission to copy without altering text or for monetary gain is hereby granted subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.

“It’s a Beautiful Day in This Neighborhood”

fireplace02 11-17-14

Well, as Mr. Rogers used to remind us so well, “It’s a beautiful day in this neighborhood . . . It’s a neighborly day in this beautywood . . .”

Aye, and so it is!

It’s cold and clear, still and beautiful. An inch or so of white stuff blankets the ground. The sun is shining, luminescent crystal. And as the cloud blanket that had tucked us in has pulled away from the chin of my part of the world, the temperature has dropped into the single digits.

Though I fussed yet again this year about the price of firewood (partly embarrassed, I think, that as an able-bodied guy I’ve not been able to just get out this year and cut my own; my chain saw may soon rust), I’m glad I got it bought, loaded, and stacked last week and ready to go! And, forgive me if you do, but I’m so glad I don’t live in a place where fireplaces are purely decorative. Mine’s going strong.

But I keep stepping outside onto the porch. Cold, crisp air is the very best sort for breathing. It reminds you that you’re alive. And if there’s a smell that makes a person happier to be alive than the sweet aroma of New Mexico pinion, I don’t know what it would be.

The folks I bought my oak firewood from ease the pain of the purchase (a little) by sacking up ends and pieces of pinion for kindling and tossing them into the bargain. What a fragrance!

But that’s the wrong word! “Fragrance” implies frou-frou (“fru fru,” if you’re Portuguese). Forgive my grammar, but the aroma of pinion ain’t dainty; it’s strong and sturdy and bold. It makes you want to go out and cut three or four cords of wood, eat three stacks of pancakes, and then go out and saw through and stack about six more. Cords, that is. I try to pace myself on pinion sniffing lest I gain thirty pounds or be tempted to strain a muscle while I’m under its influence.

I’m told that smell is closely tied to memory, and I believe it. For me, pinion has a Thanksgiving and Christmas sort of smell.

Snow’s on the ground. A fire’s laid in the hearth. I get to sing for a Thanksgiving banquet tomorrow. Christmas singing—my favorite kind—is just a heartbeat or two away. And I’m smelling pinion.

This is good.

I’m reminded of the Apostle Paul’s sweet phrase, “the aroma of Christ.” And I love the way Eugene Peterson in The Message paraphrases the apostle’s words in 2 Corinthians 2.

We’re told that wherever Christ’s people go, God brings the “knowledge of Christ” and “people breathe in the exquisite fragrance.” It’s because of Christ’s presence, “we give off a sweet scent rising to God, which is recognized by those on the way of salvation.”

Contrary to popular belief, it is what is evil and doomed to perish in this world that gives off the smell of death. What Christ brings, the apostle says, is “an aroma redolent with life.”

Better even than pinion!


 You’re invited to visit my website at http://www.CurtisShelburne.com! I don’t wish to rush the turkey, but some Christmas music is available there for your enjoyment or for gifts!



Copyright 2014 by Curtis K. Shelburne. Permission to copy without altering text or for monetary gain is hereby granted subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.

Thanksgiving, Winter Storms, Turkey, and Snow


IMG_4001Thanksgiving will soon arrive, but the ice and snow of our first winter storm have outpaced the turkey.

So here’s my question as I write on this frosty Saturday evening: When is a weekend snow event simply a meteorological occurrence and when, if ever, is it a test of faith?

After over 30 years in ministry, mostly in areas where we have real seasons and snow (which I love), here’s my vote: Snow’s snow. If you want to elevate the weekend white stuff to test of faith status, be my guest. But as a test of faith, it’s a very poor one—something worse than a paper cut and much less serious than a hemorrhoidal condition. A test of faith? Nah. Not snow.

The church leaders I work with do well with this, I think. Our decision about services tomorrow will be much more about ice than theology.

That said, faith and theology do slide in here a bit. In my experience, folks who most know that they can fully trust Christ’s completed sacrifice on the cross are folks who most often show real faith in practical ways. They attend. They give. They help and encourage. They’re neither too “spiritual” to do real work or too lackadaisical to be counted on. (I’ve seen World War II vintage folks in hospital beds who were just about to flatline who’ve rallied evidently just to write one more tithe check! Committed? Oh, yes!)

But I’ve also noticed that the most faithful folks are often also among the most genuinely thankful for a Sunday when the Lord dumps a ton of snow on us, evidently expecting us to sleep late, toss a log on the fire, use good sense, and praise Him for a real surprise Sabbath rest.

I admit it. I always hope we get buried by a really big weekend snow once a year—so big that the “cancel or not” decision is easy. I figure folks who habitually skip church if the barometric pressure isn’t right or there’s a heat wave in Mozambique get plenty of chances for Sunday sleep. The rest of us deserve one, too. My thanksgiving on that Sunday could hardly be more heartfelt. If you think I’m not religious enough to be a preacher, well, tell me some real news.

It’s probably my carnality that makes me wonder if it’s because we’ve been short of persecution, real tests of faith, that we’d ever see snow as a faith freeze-test: “Neither rain nor sleet nor snow, and I’d probably handle a lion in the Coliseum or being burned at the stake, too. Maybe better than you.” (That last part is Satan’s favorite.)

Persecution may indeed come. If I feel a weird need to rush it, I figure I can always buy a plane ticket and go recite the Lord’s Prayer aloud in a mosque in, say, Iran. That should do it.

But I doubt I need to look that far for faith tests. How about getting up to help my wife do the dishes? Or changing a smelly diaper. Or a stinky attitude. Shoveling snow for a widow. Giving more than I can easily spare. Non-glitzy tests of faith abound. Right here. Right now. No snow required.

I’m fine with whatever decision we make about cancelling services tomorrow. So are our church leaders. No wonder I like working with them.

Snow’s just snow. Unless…I find myself looking down my cold and drippy nose at folks who see the white stuff and make a different decision—either way—than me or mine. Then snow has become a faith test. One that I’ve failed.


 You’re invited to visit my website at http://www.CurtisShelburne.com!  And Happy Thanksgiving!


Copyright 2013 by Curtis K. Shelburne. Permission to copy without altering text or for monetary gain is hereby granted subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.

“Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!”


“Let it snow! Let it snow! Let it snow!” CD Cover-One Christmas Night-cover_Page_1-small

Well, it’s no secret that I love the white stuff in general and Christmas in particular. But it was a little unusual that, at the end of September, I’d be sitting on a stool up at the front of the church, playing “Let It Snow!” and eleven more Christmas songs for a nice bunch of folks who knew it wasn’t Christmas yet. I’m usually the guy fussing about those who rush the season, hang tinsel before Halloween, and fly past Thanksgiving with barely a glance at the turkey.

But this year I’m the turkey who’s just recorded a brand new Christmas album (CD), “One Christmas Night,” and we were gathered for a “Listening Party” and album debut as we played the songs and my producer, Darrell Bledsoe, and I told a few of the “behind the scenes” stories of the recording.

The whole “making music” process is fascinating, amazing, incredibly difficult, and . . . absolutely some of the most fun I’ve ever had!

One thing is now very clear to me: to get what we shared Sunday all digitized to files, made into a disc, and wrapped up in a nice package, well, that takes the best efforts and amazing talents of lots of folks.

Having an album out by Christmas means starting way before Christmas and singing Christmas songs all year. I’m fine with that!

Picking the songs. Getting the songs “charted” by and for the musicians. Recording the instrumentals. Getting special vocal arrangements. Recording the lead vocals. Arranging and recording the background vocals. Designing the album cover and “liner notes.” Mixing. Mastering. Manufacturing.

I could talk for hours about each of those steps and more. I enjoy telling those stories, not to mention describing the studios and people involved all along the way and even the mikes and sound boards, etc. I love this stuff! It’s magic to me! (I just try to stop talking before folks’ eyes glaze over.)

But most impressive to me is the number of talented people it takes to produce something you want to be beautiful and a blessing. (May I mention that you can take a listen at http://www.CurtisShelburne.com?) I’d love to tell you about each one of these friends who are so good at what they do that they have no need to be loud about it.

The Apostle Paul was not talking about recording a Christmas album. He used a different metaphor when he said that Christ’s church is a body functioning beautifully and in harmony when each “member” of the body is submitted to the Head (Christ).

I pray that, because lots of folks worked very well together, the music we’ve recorded is a blessing to many and that God’s joy fills every note. I know for sure that when Christ’s people, his church, honor him and use the gifts he has empowered in each, the result is beautiful indeed.

Forgive me, but I’m already wanting some beautiful snow!


     You’re invited to visit my website at http://www.CurtisShelburne.com! It does have new pics and sample tracks from the Christmas CD!

Copyright 2013 by Curtis K. Shelburne. Permission to copy without altering text or for monetary gain is hereby granted subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.

Some High Country Lessons for the Journey



Mountain people or lake people. Most people (except the few ambi-altitude, as in “ambidextrous,” folks I know) are mostly either one or the other. Wherever they live, if given half a chance, they’ll tend to gravitate toward one or the other.

I love the beauty from both directions, but it’s the mountains for me (and I get streams and mountain lakes tossed into the bargain). My wife and I started this week as I was preaching and singing at a wonderful community church in the mountains at Red River, New Mexico. What a start!

I’ve been singing Christmas songs all year (the Christmas album comes out this month!), so even though it’s barely September, I’m already in a mountain snow mood. (I always am! “Let it snow! Let it snow! Let it snow!”) My favorite time of year is when our family heads to Red River for a few days of high country laughing, skiing, playing, soaking in beauty, and enjoying snow-time together. The someone who said that nothing in nature is more beautiful than snow is someone who is right.

So I’m sitting here now in Red River with a noon deadline for this column, and I’m thinking about . . . let me see . . . snow! As long as I’m thinking about it, may I share, in no special order, some lessons all wrapped up in the mountain white stuff?

1) In life, it’s important to ski the part of the mountain you’re on. We all get tired sometimes and scared. But wasting time staring down a steep hill helps not at all. You can’t ski the whole slope at once, and you don’t have to. Don’t try. Jesus put it this way: “Take no anxious thought for the morrow.”

2) Everybody falls sometimes, but falls are rarely fatal, even though they may hurt. Since Jesus took the fall for us all, grace wins the day!

3) When you fall, get up, and when someone offers to help you, let them! Jesus not only has offered, he wants to live in you, giving you resurrection power to go on.

4) The journey is better when shared. Scores of elk are more beautiful when you see them with people you love. Feeding ducks on a mountain pond is better with grandkids. Sliding down snow is more fun together. Riding up the slope is better together. Even falling hurts less when you hear the laughter of someone you love who’s seen you bite the mountain but they know you’re okay. Count on dinner being more entertaining as the story of your crash is retold! The church, by the way, is God’s people making the journey together.

5) Mountains don’t just happen. Someone amazing created the beauty of the hills, the joy of the falling snow. (I can hardly imagine the “faith” it must take to believe otherwise.)

6) If it’s genuine joy, it’s God’s joy. The view from the mountaintop. Grandkids’ smiles. God’s well never runs dry. He delights in giving it away.

The psalmist cast his vote long ago: “I will lift up mine eyes to the hills!” Me, too! And to the God who made them.

Copyright 2013 by Curtis K. Shelburne. Permission to copy without altering text or for monetary gain is hereby granted subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.

“Where Does the White Go When the Snow Melts?”


Ah, we’re snowed in today, and I love it! Image

I am a snow man, no doubt about it. Not the abominable kind, I hope. Just the very ordinary kind. (“Snow person” might have been clearer, but that would be dangerously close to the politically correct ravaging and neutering of the English language evidenced by such atrocities as “chairperson,” a term that should be relegated to bad science fiction movies.) 

I just love snow. Whoever said that “there is nothing in all of nature more beautiful than snow” was right. I never get enough of it. Of course, we never get enough moisture of any kind these days, so I’m even more thankful for the frozen kind that’ll melt and seep right on in. 

I grew up in Amarillo, Texas, where we had really fine and frequent snows. Minnesotans wouldn’t be particularly impressed, but by Texas standards, our Amarillo snows were noteworthy. (As I write, my grandkids are snowed in there with 11 inches thus far and a possibility of 18! I wish I was snowed in with them!)

But the snow we got last night in the Greater Muleplex was significant, and pretty much all of our townsfolk who can stay home ARE home today. The kids and teachers were treated early on today to the special joy that comes when you see your school district’s name scrolling along the TV ticker tape-ribbon list of cancellations. Seeing what you can do with snow is plenty educational (a few years ago, I built a snow dragon!), and, as Mark Twain wisely said, “I never let my schooling interfere with my education.” 

Lubbock, to the east, got half as much snow as we have, and they’ve pretty much shut down everything. That’s smart. 

When the good Lord dumps that much white stuff on us the best thing to do is give thanks, stay home, and enjoy it! Or, better, if you’re blessed enough to be in the mountains when the white stuff is falling, strap on the sticks and head down the hill! 

We’re way short of mountains here, but the snowdrifts covering the little hill upon which I live are doing a good imitation. Snow is good at that. It makes the ordinary wonder-full! 

Alas, I thought I’d prepared for today by lugging in some firewood, but, when I started lighting the fire, I soon was treated to billowing evidence that blowing snow has stuffed my chimney shut! I was tempted to try a couple of Tim Taylor-like approaches to fixing that situation, buy my wise wife intervened, so no fire yet. 

Once this column is written, I’ll be starting to cook some stew which will be enjoyed, as the good Lord intended, with milk and cornbread. (Clam chowder, chicken and dumplings, tortilla soup, chicken pot pie, and a number of other things would also make nice main courses for a snow day like this. 

Someone asked on the Internet, “Where does the white go when the snow melts?” Hmm, I dunno. I just know that I thank the Lord for snow!



Copyright 2013 by Curtis K. Shelburne. Permission to copy without altering text or for monetary gain is hereby granted subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.

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