In a former life as a college Film & TV student, I worked on a mock commercial written and directed by a classmate friend of mine. It featured two guys in a run-down warehouse — one wanting to buy from the other some “premium Hawaiian white stuff” for his wife who desperately needed it.
The seller opens a case containing bags of white powder. The transaction is interrupted, and the commercial ends, with both men fleeing sudden sirens and flashing red and blue lights. The piece is really funny because it was done in the mid 1970s, during the height of the sugar shortage when prices skyrocketed.
Just this past week we had a whole other kind of “white stuff.”
You may recall that I mark the Summer Solstice as a time of mourning and the Winter Solstice as a time of rejoicing. The former marks the beginning of the Losing of the Light; the latter marks the beginning of the Growing of the Light.
There are also the Equinoxes, which divide the year in two. In one half, there is more light than dark; in the other half, more dark than light. As such, the Autumnal Equinox, despite falling during my favorite season, is also a time of mourning.
Technically, winter begins with the Winter Solstice, but in Minnesota we tend to mark it by when the snow arrives to stay. You may also recall I have a “when will it snow” yardstick:
- Will it be a white Halloween? (nope)
- Will it be a white Thanksgiving? (looks like)
- Will it be a white Christmas? (odds are)
This year it looks like Winter rolled in just after Halloween. We’ve had a cold snap and some snow (not a lot, but some). We could yet get a warm snap that would melt the snow, but it would take several days of warmth.
Once the snow is down, all that white reflects heat, and that helps the snow stick around longer. Once you get decent ground cover, that’s often it until next spring.
In a former place, before I came down with a brief case of Marriage, I had a doohickey that told me the temperature both inside and outside. It had a sensor on a longish wire for measuring the outside temperature. Obviously that sensor had to be outside, so you needed to route the wire through a small gap in a window or door (or make one).
It was possible, even back then, to get the current weather report quickly and easily. But even today, with phone apps, reports can vary and at best you only get data from a nearby weather station and only after the data has worked its way through whatever system.
A thermometer outside your house is immediate and somehow gratifying. It’s good to know that, right now, right outside, it’s whatever degrees. (I suppose it’s mostly people who live in places with extreme temperatures that find it so interesting.)
I still have the doohickey, but I’ve moved three times, and it’s been banged up a bit. I never got around to installing it here. There really weren’t any good choices on routing the wire. Plus, the doohickey is obviously constrained to be near where you place the sensor.
But modern technology to the rescue. Now you can buy units with radio-based outside sensors. You also have freedom on where you put the inside unit. Kinda win-win.
Thus I know that, last night, right outside, it got down to 10 (point nine). And right now it’s 25 (point one). That’s in Fahrenheit degrees, but the unit has an option for Centigrade.
I know the minimum because the unit stores it. Unfortunately, it resets the min and max (both indoor and outdoor) every midnight. My old doohickey kept min and max (outdoor only) until I reset them (allowing me to track over days — I wish this one could do that).
In a former universe, or an alternate one, we could just call them Tember, Tober, Vember and Cember. After all, September is no longer the seventh month (nor is October the eighth, November the ninth or December the tenth).
On the other hand, the abbreviations (Sep, Oct, Nov & Dec) are pretty handy. (And there’s something about “Toberfest” that doesn’t quite cut it.)
Okay, never mind. Have a lovely Snow-Vember!