Where Did Winter Go?

By , January 29, 2016

I kind of hate to say this, but I feel like we’re running out of winter!

We make an effort to celebrate and appreciate winter for its own sake, rather than merely as a setting in which to celebrate Christmas. After Twelfth Night, our traditional end of the Christmas season, we replace the trimmings of that season with more general wintry decorations.

Michelle has made sets of table and sill coverings for each season, including a winter set bedight with snowflakes in silvers and blues. This is distinct from the Christmas set, with its traditional red and green color scheme. We use snowflake and other winter-themed design sheets on the bed. We play a lot of music inspired by winter. We drink from winter wine glasses (see Samhain Welcomes Winter).

All of which has been largely for naught this year. While sections of the lower 48 battle “Snowzilla” and other winter weather events, it feels like March or even April on our homestead! Throughout the south’s snow crisis, we’ve had heavy rain and temperatures up to the low 40s.

I don’t know exactly when we last had a hard freeze. It came sometime during our trip to Baranof Warm Springs (see A New Year Far from Home). We reached a low of 16° F here at one point, according to our recording thermometer. By the time we returned home, the weather had turned warm, almost to the point of balmy. Even with several periods of snow, the temperatures rarely got down to freezing for more than a few hours.

It appears that we’re warm because the jet stream, possibly influenced by the current El Niño, has pulled arctic air out of our region into the Lower 48.

This warm weather offers a lot of advantages that we’re willing to exploit. We can move around the property more easily, preparations for the coming gardening season continue unmolested, we’re unbothered by freezing issues and the like. It’s all rather convenient.

It’s just that our winter decorations seem a bit sad. Coming in from a warm, rainy day to a cabin filled with all the symbols of a winter wonderland feels a bit desperate, as if we’re trying to invoke a season that, at this point, appears to be running out of steam.

At times like this, and it has happened before (see Thawed) we remember that this is Southeast Alaska, and February looms. We often see our worst winter weather in the very month that we, as adherents to the more natural Celtic calendar of seasons, regard as the beginning of spring. We can reasonably expect that, just about the time we start to pack away our winter decor, we’ll get hit with a deep freeze, or heavy snow, if not both. The threat of a cold snap lasts well into spring (see We’ve Been Warned) sometimes even into May. For now, though, winter seems to wane.

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