Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Unseasonably warm

It seems that people generally fall into two camps regarding the unseasonably warm weather with which December of 2011 has begun. Some, like my friend Jenn, are saying “The holiday season just isn’t the same without frosty air and snowflakes. Where’s the weather to set the mood? When can we say it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas?” Others are just happy to be catching what feels like a little reprieve before true winter kicks in.

In past years, December has been a cold and snowy month, though last year’s epic snow accumulation didn’t begin in earnest until the day after Christmas. Nonetheless, this week’s temperatures in the sixties seem to mean something to everyone, whether positive or negative.

I’m a little reticent to admit it, but at the moment, I fall into the reprieve camp. I say “reticent” because relishing the unseasonably warm weather makes me feel, well, old. There was a time when I found snowstorms romantic; frigid mornings inspiring; icy ponds and frost-crusted branches magical. But that time was decades ago, when the driveway seemed to magically plow itself and the ultimate crowning touch to a snowy day was a school cancellation the next morning.

There are still plenty of things I like about winter weather. Snowshoeing, for one thing; and I’m looking forward to snowshoeing even more this winter because of all the trails near our new house. I like the surprise of getting to sleep a little bit late because school is closed and the kids don’t have to catch the bus. I like watching Tim and Holly go sledding together. I like the way the fields and woods throughout our town look when blanketed with snow.

And perhaps it’s only because I’m so sure all of that will still come within the next few months – or maybe weeks – that it’s easy for me to say I’m enjoying this unseasonably mild weather. But the fact is, temperatures in the 60’s or even 40’s, with the ground still dry, simply make life easier than deep snow and crusty ice. Last night was our annual town tree lighting. For the past several years, the weather has been uniformly freezing for that event: adults stamp their feet and dab at their runny noses while kids run in circles to stay warm while we sing carols and wait for Santa’s arrival by firetruck. True, it’s a little harder to be in the Santa mood when you can stand outside during the tree lighting in a sweater rather than a parka, but it still seemed like an easier evening overall this year than it has recently.

The weather is expected to change in the next day or two, and maybe then I’ll finally get some Christmas shopping and decorating done. Snow and cold are definitely a catalyst to getting into the holiday mood, as I learned when we had a foot of snow in late October and Holly started talking about her Christmas wish list even though it wasn’t yet Halloween. “It feels like Christmas!” she said on that October 30, and it did. Now it feels like September. But September is a beautiful month, and I’m going to breathe deeply of the mild damp air and enjoy it just a little more before I have to dig boots and gloves out of the basement for another long winter.

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