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.
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:
- Will it snow by Halloween?
- Will it snow by Thanksgiving?
- 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.)
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.]