57 and Rising

When I woke up this morning, it was 67 degrees in the house and 57 outside. (Fahrenheit, by the way.) Right now I’m sitting here fighting the urge to turn on the furnace. Or at least put on some socks (I’m a barefoot boy unless I absolutely, positively must wear shoes; I rarely am stocking footed; shoes or nothing, preferably nothing).

Or maybe even just close the windows.

But it’s supposed to warm up to 77 or 78 today, so I’m fighting the urge. I don’t even want to close the windows. I love fall weather, and I’ve been so much enjoying that period between needing the air conditioner to fight the heat and humidity and needing the furnace to fight Old Man Winter.

Even in the winter, I like to crack open a window and let a little air in when I can. I love fresh air, and I love being outside. On the flip side, I hate being in a sealed office building bathed in sickly fluorescent lighting. [Whoa! Without looking it up, I spelled “fluorescent” correctly for the first time in my life! #win]

Spring is nice, too. There is a period between turning off the furnace and having to turn on the air conditioning. And after a long winter, spring feels very good. (You know the old joke about the man hitting his head with a hammer? “Why are you doing that?!” asks his friend. “Because it feels so good when I stop!” he replies. Winter is like that. It can be a hammer, but it feels good when it stops.)

But I like the fall better. There’s the beauty of the turning leaves, which in many cases can be literally breath-taking. (And I do mean literally literally.) I’ve never seen a photo, or even a painting, that could capture the subtle variations of color in fall leaves. Even a single leaf can have such a spectacular shading of ochres, umbers and auburns that it can captivate you for hours. (I’ve mentioned before, that I’m a very visual person, and that I love light and color!)

There is also that spring can be a bit muddy from the melting snow, plus there can be piles of dirty, filthy snow in shaded spots (ugh lee). On the other hand, no more winter, and the days are getting longer, and the trees and plants are budding. Suffice to say spring is my other favorite season, but fall is top dog.

Dec 30, 2011
You call this winter?
‘Cause I don’t!

There is also that I weather winter better than summer. One can dress for the cold, but in the doldrums of summer’s worst heat and humidity, once you’re down to skin, there’s not much you can do.  Humidity is, by far, my least favored weather condition. Fall means an escape from that; spring means it’s coming.

However, fall does have one big count against it In opposition to spring, fall is the fading of the light. For me, summer solstice is a mournful occasion. It may signal the official start of summer, but to me it signals the coming dark, the long slide towards winter. And therefore the winter solstice is my beloved Christmas present: the sun-eating sky dragons defeated and driven off, our local star restores to health and life begins anew.

I mark the coming winter with three questions:

  1. Will it snow by Halloween?
  2. Will it snow by Thanksgiving?
  3. Will it snow by Christmas?

(Computer geeks count from zero, and there is the zeroth question that prompted this post: When will I have to resort to using the furnace?)

If the answer to the first question is yes, it’s likely to be a long and ugly winter. (To answer the question yes, it has to snow, and the snow must stick around for at least a week. For a truly proper yes answer it must stick for the rest of winter.)

In 1991 we got pounded with a snowstorm on Halloween. Then it melted a bit, and then we got more snow on top, so for the whole winter we had ice under snow. That was the very definition of a long and ugly winter!

It’s nice for the holiday season if it snows by Thanksgiving. And it simply must snow by Christmas, or it’s not very wintery at all. (One of my favorite holiday songs concerns that very topic.)

Dec 25, 2011
Christmas Day
It “snowed!”

So as fall falls upon the region, I wonder what kind of winter it will be this year. The winters of oh-nine and oh-ten were pretty good, especially the former. But last year was hardly a winter at all. We got a snow dusting for Christmas, but by the end of the month, there was hardly a snow pile in sight. If it’s going to be cold and dark anyway, I want snow! Lots and lots of snow. I want icicles and snowball fights. I want to build snow beings!

Lesson learned: if you build a snow woman—the breasts making it obviously female—be prepared for unknown somebodies to apparently be offended and knock it down. Get off my snow lawn you miscreants! (Actually,… they probably thought I was the miscreant. And actually,… maybe they had a point! Bwa-ha-ha-ha!)

As we ponder the pending putative pounding of pwinter (silent night, silent p), let me leave you with a helpful trick for beating the heat or the cold. I was reminded of this as I washed some dishes this morning and the hot water warmed and woke me.

If you find yourself too cold or too hot, try running hot or cold water over both wrists for a while. Go as cold or hot as you can stand. There are big blood vessels near the surface of your wrists (hence the suicide thing of slitting them).

You’ll feel the warmth or coolth coming up your arms and into your body. Do that for five to ten minutes, and you may feel a lot better.  It’s especially effective as a cool down technique in the summer.

“Stay thirsty, my friends!” (No connection to this post; I just really love those commercials.)

[Incidentally, the title today, 57 and Rising, is a double reference, but I’m not saying what the other meaning is.  If you’ve been reading this blog, you just might be able to figure it out. The only clue I’ll provide is that it refers to something imminent.]

About Wyrd Smythe

The canonical fool on the hill watching the sunset and the rotation of the planet and thinking what he imagines are large thoughts. View all posts by Wyrd Smythe

14 responses to “57 and Rising

  • Wyrd Smythe

    Update: 75 out, 71 in. The furnace remains quiescent!

  • dianasschwenk

    My favourite season is summer but we don’t have high humidity here. In the east, where I originate, it was humid, so there autumn was my fave season as well!

    • Wyrd Smythe

      I’m from out west, and the same is true for me. Out there summer was my season! Long days, great weather (pretty much year round, actually), and the beach.

      Funny thing: in Los Angeles, there isn’t much weather change, so it’s like there are no seasons. But in June, it’s usually kind of cloudy, plus the Jacaranda bloom then. So you have these trees with bright purple flowers against a grey sky. It’s really kinda neat. Makes up for Christmas among the palm trees. (Almost.)

      • Wyrd Smythe

        It’s a pretty cool state (if you don’t mind the occasional earthquake:cool:). Lots of variety, too. One reason the film industry happened in L.A. is that, within trucking distance, you have city, beach, mountains, forest, desert, river and farmland. (Many don’t realize that CA is a big farming state!)

      • dianasschwenk

        I did not know about the farming! I love Venice Beach and how you can walk to all the beaches and Universal Studios and Balboa Island and San Diego! Oh and that cool outdoor mall in Newport (I forget the name of it)

      • Wyrd Smythe

        Yep, lots of fun to be had in Cali-forn-eye-ay! Venice Beach used to be a high crime, drug dealer, low rent, hippie-filled area until money moved in and took over. San Francisco is a great place to have fun as well; northern California is almost a different state (definitely a different state of mind). As for the farming, among other things, CA is the largest producer of strawberries and kiwi fruit!

      • dianasschwenk

        one day I will go see San Fran and tickle my taste buds in the Napa Valley!

  • rorypond2020

    I’m very much an autumn man myself, with spring a close second. I like winter and summer, of course, but I’m a temperate weather kind of guy when possible. And sweat is much too close and personal a friend to me during the hotter months.

    • Wyrd Smythe

      Yeah… nothing quite like when the temp and the humidity is 90… and it’s 11 at night! That’s the thing that kills me here; the heat stays around all night. Out west, even when the days are beastly hot, it cools down at night!

  • Andrea Kelly

    I’m jealous of your snowy winters! I think I would like winter much more if it snowed here. I’m in a valley so the clouds tend to dump all the white stuff on the mountains before lowering over us for the rest of the season 😛 I believe the last White Christmas I had was 23 years ago? Unfortunately, I was two, so I can’t remember it.

    But yes, I agree, Fall is the best of the seasons! I would say I’m a bigger fan of summer than spring however – our springs are wet and muddy and not much different than our winters.

    • Wyrd Smythe

      There is something about a snowfall, especially the first good snow of the season, that can really bring out the kid in one. There is something magical about being outside playing, or just walking, in one of those heavy snowfalls with the big, slow flakes. The ones so big that when they hit you in the face, it feels like someone slapped you with a very tiny, very cold washcloth. And, as with a good fog, the snow absorbs the sounds and wraps you in a cocoon of silence and limited vision. It transforms the world into something special: clean, simple, quiet, private. Your warm coat, hood and boots are like a spacesuit keeping you warm and protected while you visit a beautiful alien world.

      Those moments make up for the four months of actually having to live on that world, which also comes in flavors of dirty slush, black ice, darkness, car-eating salted roads and engines that would prefer not starting. (There is also that whole ‘don’t lick frozen flagpoles’ thing, and that’s a real problem, since flagpole-licking is such a common activity in these parts.)

      Having lived in Los Angeles, I can relate to not having a white Christmas. (The images there are in some ways even worse: they decorate the palm trees!) And I can relate to what you say about spring. Melting snow makes it muddy and wet here, too. But at least we had the “real” winter; I can imagine you’d be pretty tired of cold, wet and muddy after a whole winter of it! (L.A. also had its compensations: the weather was usually pretty great.)

  • Lady from Manila

    You are quite fortunate for having winter and autumn as among your seasons. In the Philippines, we’ve got only two: summer and rainy. During summer, it literally feels like hell. When it rains heavily, there are floods almost everywhere. Drat. I have always read and heard about the breathtaking sight of falling snow. How enviable. I have to agree, though, autumn is the best season of all. Nothing can beat its fresh, cool air.

    Was that a photo of your house with ice hanging from the roof? Lovely.

    • Wyrd Smythe

      Yep, all photos in that article are from right outside my (town)house (condo, actually; I don’t own the land, just what’s inside the walls).

      When I lived in Los Angeles, there wasn’t any winter, either. They don’t really have any seasons there; it’s usually “77 and sunny.” Palm trees at Christmas is so very SoCal!

      I’m guessing Manila is basically tropical rainforest type climate? The humidity must be high. As I’ve mentioned, that’s the one weather condition I hate the most. Typical Midwestern August weather has finally arrived: temps in the 90s with very high humidity. I’ve finally had to close the place up and turn on the A/C (especially for the dog’s sake).

      On the other hand, maybe now (once the dog leaves) I can stop enjoying my summer and return to blogging! (Baseball season winding down in October will help… that takes up three-plus hours per day and seems to use up my willingness (at the moment) for scheduled things. I’ve been really enjoying the freedom of having almost no schedule at all!

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