Friday, January 12, 2007

What's With This Weather?

According to Mark Twain, everybody talks about the weather but nobody does anything about it. Well, finally that clever adage has been disproved.

It seems that years of people talking about the weather has generated enough hot air to make January seem like early April. We’re weeks into winter and we can barely keep a dusting of snow on the ground.

Now I’m generally the first to complain after we’ve had our first few annual rounds of snow, ice and cold. If, like me, you’re not a skier, you hate winter driving and the only skating you like is the indoor variety, then this latest winter weather pattern should be cause for celebration. Yet strangely it’s not.

When it comes to the weather, there’s really only one consistent, accepted response: complaining. Generally that means grousing about it being too hot, too cold, too wet, too dry or just too of anything.

So this winter, my seasonal complaint is that it’s just too darned weird. Golfers hitting the links in Ottawa in December? Joggers running shirtless in New York’s Central Park in January? Migratory birds cashing in the return half of their southern ticket? What the heck is going on?

When I whine about winter, it’s usually because of those endless cold snaps that keep you plugging in your car for nights on end. Or day after day of snow that builds up on the roof of your house to the point where you have to actually think about hiring someone to shovel it off. Or the alternating pattern of cold spells and freezing rain that makes every trip outside an adventure.

However, if I can get a winter that’s not too cold, too snowy or too icy, then I’m reasonably satisfied. You know, what we used to call a mild winter.

But this one is just plain nuts. How can you look out your front window in the middle of January and see bare grass and convince yourself that it’s winter?

Let’s face it; this is downright unnatural. My snow shovel has been sitting in the carport unused since early November and I’m afraid it’s starting to rust. The snow tires were sensibly installed on the car in late October and have been rapidly wearing away on permanently bare pavement ever since. And the $300 I spent on a snow clearing contract for our driveway might as well have been tossed in the fireplace as kindling for all the good it’s done so far.

A day or two of mild winter weather is always a nice break. But this extended stretch of false spring is downright creepy. It was kind of nice at first to go without the parka and the toque and the mitts. But once we hit January and things didn’t change, I started thinking that there had to be some payback for this respite from the cold.

I figure it’s kind of like overusing your credit card. It’s fun while the shopping spree lasts. But once the next bill arrives in the mail, the pain of repayment begins.

And that’s what I figure we’re in for soon, a big fat cold, icy, snowy repayment. The jet stream, El Niño, global warming and kismet are going to gang up on us and give us our usual four-month dose of winter. Except that it’s all going to be concentrated into the final two months.

So enjoy the next couple of weeks of weirdness because when it comes to weird weather, I predict that we ain’t see nothin’ yet. Come February and March, hang on to your hats, your coats and your scarves. Like Bette Davis said in "All About Eve": "Fasten your seat belts. It’s going to be a bumpy night." And trust me, that’s when the real complaining will begin.

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