Boston Globe photo of buds on a magnolia tree at the Arnold Arboretum. According to the news reports, the weather has buds swelling and flowers popping on some of the trees and bushes at the arboretum.
It's January, it's night, and I have windows open.
What is wrong with this picture?
Everyone around me it seems — even the most determined future Florida snowbird — is out of sorts over this spring-like weather and has been since before Christmas. People are short-tempered, cranky, and positively suffering near-paranoia over this.
Where's the snow? we keep asking each other. Where's winter? This can't be a good sign. You realize our water supply is gonna take a hit. We need that snow.
It's an interesting psychological snapshot. Suddenly we all begin to glimpse at the reasons why our caveman forebears would willingly sacrifice neighbors and family in an orgy of blood to whatever god, goddess, or spirit they thought controlled the weather and then retire to dance around the bonfire to ensure the wheel of the seasons stayed on the familiar path. That's not to say that any modern 21st Century American is about to start breaking out the stone knives, firing up the bonfires, and looking a fresh young male or female virgin to sacrifice. Killing the underage neighbor is not going to bring winter any more than dancing around a bonfire will.
Yet the sense that something must be done and we have to do it quickly just doesn't seem to quite fade away, even though we know that whatever is causing this unseasonable weather is rooted somehow in science. So we are left wondering, Did a butterfly flap over Tokyo? Is it global warming coming on with a vengeance? Or is it just some weird natural phenomenon and all will be right with the weather next week/next month/next year?
Either way, the sense of "something's wrong" is unmistakable.
In the past few days, I've heard people refer to this terrifying spring-like weather as "disgusting" and "unnatural" and "simply wrong." People's allergies are acting up because the local flora and funa believe that April is here and are, even as we speak, sprouting for their long winter nap a full four months early. People are getting sick because we're dressing for winter and but are left struggling with the reality of a January spring.
Some years ago in a job that is far, far away, I worked with a New England transplant from the south. She never had issues with the snow. While we were all bitching and moaning in the is-it-spring-yet doldrums of February, she never joined in. In her mind, you see, there was nothing more beautiful than a New England winter sky. "There are days it's so blue," she said, "it's enough to make you weep."
This morning, I walked out of my apartment today to run some errands, dressed to match that blue New England winter sky with its scattered dark clouds hinting of an oncoming snow menace. I was smacked right in the face with 70-something degree weather and had to retreat to put on a short-sleeve t-shirt and a flannel shirt (just in case January finally roared in the few hours I was out running around).
As I wandered around outside and did my thing, the disquiet just wouldn't go away. It wasn't just the unseasonably warm weather, it was that the sky looked wrong for this kind of weather. Above me was nothing less than a postcard-perfect New England winter sky hanging over a textbook New England spring day.
It appears I'm not the only one who thought the visual didn't match up with warmth on my skin.
When I stopped for coffee at the local café, the woman behind the counter made a remark about the "disgusting" weather before adding, "What really worries me is the sky." She said. "It's the right sky for winter, but it's the wrong sky for the weather."