All kinds of lovely “s” words today, the most classy and fascinating of course being the snot. But hey, at least I’m no longer talking about that other “s” word of late, septic … and the other obvious “s” word that goes with it. So really, it is a step up around here. Except for the snot, which has claimed my sinuses for England and isn’t going to give them up without a fight. I don’t get very many colds and so when I do I am miserable, and I suspect everyone around me is also miserable because I complain and moan and whine and wonder when I will be passing into the hereafter, because this COLD, it is KILLING me.
It is a particularly bad time to be battling the snot because I am scheduled to join the other, more northerly snowbirds on Sunday for a flight to Orlando. I’ll be attending a conference all week, meaning I’ll be sitting in an arctic conference room all week wondering how warm and sunny it is outside and hoping that my nose will stop running. For myself and those that are going to have to be around me, I really hope the snot is under control by then. Mike is coming for the weekend and we’re going to revel in the warmth of Florida in February where the forecasted lows for the coming ten days are higher than the forecasted highs for Nashville. While we frolic at the House of Mouse next Saturday it could be snowing at home. I am really starting to understand why birds and old people go south for the winter.
Actually, I’ve enjoyed winter here thus far. Like many of the things I was worried about before we moved, the cold winter has been a non-issue. When it is really cold and hovers below freezing for a few days I make soup, wear scarves and park close to the entrance to the restaurants. It isn’t bad, and I like the bright sunny days that are skin slapping cold. The unexpectedness of the cold air and the pleasure of a warm building afterwards are fun. I know that we don’t have “real” winter here … the snow, though it has fallen quite a few times, has only stuck once. The sky is generally blue and the clouds and wind come through and leave quite quickly. Unlike those unlucky in Kentucky folks, we’ve had power and heat all winter, and with the exception of the time the dirt rollers colonized our furnace, we’ve been toasty warm in the house. (What are dirt rollers? I haven’t a clue, but the man who fixed the furnace said we had a whole mess of them keeping warm over the burners in the furnace and preventing it from lighting.)
The trees are bare; instead of one hundred shades of green, I’m seeing multiple variations of gray and brown, bracing lines against a clear blue sky. Without the shelter of leaves, the birds are on full display, more muted than in the spring and summer but easier to spot. The large tree-ish bush cluster in our back yard is home to a pair of cardinals that flit around. I can see them from my bedroom window, little bright spots even on the bleakest day. The views are different too – I now know that there are houses on some of the surrounding hills that I’d never been able to see, and visually I can see how roads connect now that every corner and rise isn’t frosted with thick green. This is how it looked when we bought the house so it seems a little more familiar than the flamboyant flush of summer. This we’ve seen before and I don’t mind its spare simplicity, or the contract it provides to the beauty that I know is coming.
Still, I do understand the snowbirds. We went to Honolulu for a long weekend in January and the warm air and smell of flowers was intoxicating. Finally I understand the allure of the tropics, especially in the winter. We flew from here to Chicago to LA to Honolulu on a freezing Saturday that started out snowy and made a westward progression to somewhere more compatible with the kind of clothes we were wearing. The white, wan faces of Midwesterners arriving to the warm caress of Hawaii felt strangely familiar this year – we couldn’t get over the sun! the warm! the smell! the Hawaii! I am hooked. Clearly, every January is going to require a trip to St. Somewhere. Jimmy Buffett has it right. I had no idea how much the warmth could appeal … how could I? I’ve had it year round my entire life. I may no longer have warm January afternoons, but at least now I appreciate their glory.
It has been unseasonably warm here for the past few days. Anna visited and brought California weather with her and failed to take it home. I was hoping she’d get the pleasure of a few bracingly cold days, and frankly, I’m not ready for warm weather yet. My bulbs need a few more weeks of really cold nights, and we’d like our trees to get some more rain before things warm up. The great and honorable Punxsutawney Phil, Seer of Seers, Prognosticator of all Prognosticators saw his shadow, and so six more weeks of winter we shall have. Mike thinks the ground hog is crazy, but I think that winter isn’t done with us yet. Besides, I’m going to Florida next week and Phoenix in three and I want to enjoy that delirious rush of snowbird freedom at least two more times. Meantime, here’s to winter, that much maligned and misunderstood season (also known merely as February in California). I’m not moving further north anytime soon, but I like Tennessee winter just fine. Good thing, then, that I believe in the groundhog!