By Wayne William Cipriano
Does the official date of the beginning of winter surprise you as much as it does me? Regardless of the date, when almost all the leaves are off the oak trees (The Devil and Daniel Webster) and the yard between our house and the woods is ankle deep in sepia, it is winter for me.
You can’t rely on the temperature –– one week it is freezing, really freezing cold, the next it is barely sweater weather. You cannot rely on precipitation –– one day it is icing so badly that they call off school, the next it is a cool rain sucked up gratefully by parched fields. Even the leaves, my preferred method of winter calculation, fall as much as a response to windy days as they do to the advance of the calendar.
When you think about it, we are in a perfect geography to call the seasons whatever we wish. What spring day guarantees that the next will be as mild? When in the summer are we sure that the next day will be as blisteringly hot once more? How often has the snowy day of winter produced surprising floods and mud on the morrow?
Every single place I have lived, and those different places add up to a huge number of moves over a lifetime, has announced that at that place, unlike I suppose anywhere else, the weather is so changeable that if you do not like it, all you have to do is wait a minute or a day. And, if you do not live at one of the poles, it is pretty much that way for everyone.
So, we are left with seasonal generalizations – the variance from the mean that we accept as normal.
But perhaps of all the clues to future weather, our house surrounded by a deep, brown, crunchy lake of fragrant beautiful leaves is the most reliable: cooler, colder, freezing weather is on the way and it will be inescapable.
I remember the telephone calls I have had with our lovely neighbor, Mrs. Maggard, when we would always get around to the weather, particularly in the winter when we might be dangerously snowbound in our respective homes. “One thing is for sure,” we would quip to each other, “every day is one day closer to July. And it cannot snow in July!”
At least, it hasn’t yet.