Emily on Winter

New England Early Winter. 1849. By Samuel Lanc...
Image via Wikipedia

The sky is low, the clouds are mean,
A traveling flake of snow
Across a barn or through a rut
Debates if it will go.

A narrow wind complains all day
How someone treated him;
Nature, like us, is sometimes caught
Without her diadem.

~Emily Dickinson

 

Image: New England Early Winter. 1949. By S.L. Gerry (Museum of Fine Arts, Boston) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Comm

Y’all Stay Warm

Freezing rain, sleet, and drizzle. Williamson County is getting snow, but we’re getting freezing rain, sleet, and drizzle.

I’m fortunate. I don’t have to travel. JFTHOI Writers meet tomorrow–or meets tomorrow–but attendance isn’t compulsory. When roads are icy, few things are compulsory. I fell off one highway once because of a patch of ice, and I don’t care to repeat the experience.

If my husband has to leave for work at the usual time, I’ll worry. But when roads are bad, his office generally delays opening.

So there it is. I have a stack of books. If the power is on, I have the laptop. If the power isn’t on, I have a bed and a heavy comforter and a couple of cats.

Y’all stay warm.

The Cockles of Our Hearts

According to his PR people, Punxsatawney Phil did not see his shadow, so spring will arrive early this year.

He also predicted the Steelers will win the Super Bowl.

His official statement appears here.

I don’t give much credence to P. Phil’s forecasts. When I was very young, my mother let me in on the secret that even if the groundhog didn’t see his shadow and scoot back into his burrow, we would still have to endure another six weeks of coats and scarves before spring arrived.

And thus was a seed of cynicism planted in a young girl’s heart.

That’s okay. It comes in handy.

At present, Austin’s official temperature is 25 degrees Fahrenheit. My laptop gadget reads 23 degrees.

My right hand and the little strip of skin between the bottom of  my bluejeans and the top of my sock is about minus 2.

im testionmg tp see wjetje4r I cfnm tu[e wi9tju gl;ves om.

Obviously not. That looks like a visual rendition of what happened when my cousin Jimmy wore his baseball glove while practicing the piano.

According to the article cited below, when P. Phil was making his proclamation, the temperature was 35 degrees. That means Pennsylvania was 10 degrees warmer than the air on the other side of the sliding glass door beside my chair.

That is not right.

Because of the storm (here called a “norther”) Texas is experiencing a series of planned rolling blackouts. How long they’ll last can’t be predicted. I’ve turned off lights, television, oven, and coffee maker. I set the thermostat on 65 and hope that’s low enough to make a difference. I turned off the desktop computer. Then I tried to access the wireless network from the laptop.

D’oh.

I turned the desktop back on. With the thermostat at 65, and all the lights and appliances off, perhaps that one extra computer won’t upset the grid.

Central Texans are officially keyed up in anticipation of tomorrow’s possible snowfall, perhaps one to three inches, perhaps. Snow isn’t reliable in this part of the country. In my entire scholastic career, first grade through retirement, I got only two days off because of snow.

This time, however, it’ll probably happen. It’s becoming more common.

The colder weather makes more blackouts almost certain. For me and mine, that’s not much of a problem. I do think about the people whose houses aren’t so warm as mine, especially babies and the elderly. Fortunately, the weekend is supposed to be warmer.

But–drum roll, please–for those anxious about the future, word has already been spread abroad: This Sunday’s Super Bowl in Dallas will not be affected by blackouts.

How timely.

Just at the moment of our greatest need, comes an announcement guaranteed to warm the cockles of our hearts.

I’m already feeling the burn.

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Related Video (Be sure to watch. It’s cute.)

Day 31: The possibility of light flurries

 

Let’s get one thing out of the way: The little white flakes you see floating across the screen don’t mean a visit to the ophthalomologist is in order.

They’re snowflakes, courtesy of WordPress. After January 4, they’ll disappear. If our weather doesn’t change radically, they will be the only snowflakes most Central Texans see this year.

We’re finally getting some 50- and 60-degree weather during the day. It was supposedly in the 40s when I left home early this morning. It’s now back down to 48.

I didn’t hear the forecast, so I don’t know whether to expect William and Ernest to sleep with us tonight. If the temperature dips into the 30s, the bed will be crowded.

One day last week, we had a high of 87, which I consider excessive even in summer. After a day like that, the cats won’t even sleep in the same room with the humans.

This being Texas, of course, nothing is certain. To quote the adage, “If you don’t like the Texas weather, just wait.” Christmas Day could bring icy streets and frozen water pipes, but we could as easily be running the air conditioning. Been there, done both. And no matter how much I grouse about the heat, I prefer AC to frozen plumbing. But most of my Christmases have fallen somewhere in between.

When it does snow–as it did two consecutive Christmases in the mid-80s, measuring twelve inches when packed and iced over–things stop. Most natives don’t know how to drive on snow and ice, and automobiles aren’t equipped for it. Road maintenance crews do what they can, but they’re not equipped to deal with streets and roads that need attention perhaps once in five or six years. It’s safer to keep drivers at home.

I speak from experience. When I was a college senior, I hit a patch of ice and ended up in a ditch facing the wrong direction. Fortunately, or unfortunately, depending on how you look at it, I landed right across the four-lane lightly-traveled (that morning) highway from my father’s workplace. He didn’t appear surprised when I straggled in wearing a sheepish smile. Having driven from Normandy to Cologne under less-than-ideal road conditions, he calmly drove the car out of the ditch filled with slick Johnson grass, and twelve miles later deposited me at the bottom of College Hill. Getting up the hill to comparative anatomy was my problem.

The fact that I remember that incident is significant. It’s the only driving-on-ice story I have.

But this far south, we like to pretend. News anchors and meteorologists (I’d rather write weathermen, but I won’t) speculate on the possibility of a white Christmas. We sing “White Christmas.” Shoppers trudge through malls to the strains of “Sleigh Ride,” “Walkin’ in a Winter Wonderland,” and “Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow.” We hang tinsel on fir trees to simulate icicles and put cut-outs of snowmen on lawns. We do much of this wearing cotton t-shirts.

Our friends Greg and Maryellen have the right idea. They bring a cactus plant in from the patio and string it with lights.

When we get all excited at the prospect of a white Christmas, they smile and let us talk.

They’re from Ohio. They know exactly what we’re talking about.

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