Saturday, January 14, 2017

A Variety of Seasonal Offerings--Take Your Pick...

Having relocated to NC from Maryland about 2-1/2 years ago, I feel qualified at this point to state with a fair amount of certainty that Winter is an...interesting...season around here. First of all, I've always found it amusing that we're still technically part of the Mid-Atlantic region (note: NOT "the South"...which I'm led to understand officially begins in the other Carolina), yet the meteorological happenings during Chapel Hill's short couple of months between (extended) Fall and (early-arriving) Spring couldn't be much more different from our previous home state.

For example, I remember when Team WestEnders first journeyed to the area in December 2013, to do some recon and determine whether it was someplace we could see ourselves settling. The whole time we were here, the daytime temps climbed to at least 50 degrees...and everyone we came in contact with during our stay actually apologized for how COLD it was. Seriously, we were shedding our jackets, walking around in sweatshirts, and assuring people that we were just fine, thank you--and appreciating what felt to us like delightful, mild...un-Winter-ish...afternoons.

From our observations over time, the standard pattern seems to be: overnight lows anywhere from the teens to thirties, and highs during the daylight hours in the 40s or 50s as a rule. Then you'll get brief bouts of frigidness--usually a couple of days to a week--but you know they're temporary, and things will return to normal soon enough. This makes it sooooo much easier for folks like, deal with my least favorite time of the year, because it's not terribly bitter cold, or drawn out endlessly...and therefore one doesn't feel the intense desire to hide indoors and protect oneself until it's all over (kind of like...a less-furry bear--those guys have the right idea, I'm tellin' ya...).

Now, one unfortunate thing that we were told, which has also held true, is that this region tends to get more of the sleet-type-stuff than snow. Obviously this makes driving and walking...and going to school...more challenging from time to time. Case in point: we suffered a dose of icy precipitation last weekend--maybe an inch or two of "wintry mix" that coated our roads and sidewalks. And I'm not kidding you: the students were out for THREE days because of it. As for my own boys, the progression went something like this...thrilled for the first day...relieved about the second (since they got to stay up late for the Alabama/Clemson football game)...and totally ready to go back by the third.

As a matter of fact, I think Husband might have been on the same page as well; when I arrived home from work that last day (because, you know, the roads were absolutely clear by then) he made sure to point out, in a very self-satisfied tone, that the brothers had been "bickering" he'd sent them out to scrape the remaining frozen coating from the driveway. However, when I queried the boys about it later, Derek chuckled and said, "Yeeaahh...we had like a 4-second debate about who was going to unclog the toilet (honestly, I think I'd argue about....I mean "discuss" the division of labor on that chore, happy I missed that one...), which Dad heard, and immediately sent us outside." appears that the return to academia came without a moment to spare for all concerned, yeah?

And then...right on the heels of our Winterlude, Spring showed up. I mean, 70 degree days, both Thursday and Friday....prompting the natives to go a little nuts and break out the t-shirts and shorts again. (I hadn't really thought about it before, but no one around here probably ever puts away their so-called "out-of-season wardrobe" be on the safe side...'cuz you just never know...) As we all are well aware, I tend toward the chilly side, so I didn't push it quite that far...but I did go running in much lighter clothing--and fewer layers--than I'd usually be able to manage at this time of year...and I even rode my bike. You heard me, my friends: I can now say that--for what I believe is the first time ever--I've braved my two-wheeler in January. And yes, I felt all wild and reckless and...whatnot. (But most critically, NOT miserable...or...popsicled...)

One thing that entertained me while I was out-and-about in the neighborhood--besides the unexpected gift of super-pleasant mid-Winter conditions--was that more than a handful of residents still have their holiday decorations up...and turned on every night. I, personally, like to tuck ours away around New Year's Day, yet I admit that I do continue to enjoy seeing the festive lights. Heck, maybe at this point they're meant to spread a little twinkly cheer during the darkest and frostiest season? (Sure, we'll go with that.)

Now, I know it's too much to hope that after our one little visit from Old Man Winter we're all done with that kind of nonsense. So, okay, I'll concede that we're most likely going to have a repeat performance (or two) in February. With that being said, do you think maybe we can strike some kind of a bargain...with Mother Nature? As a trade-off, I'd like to ask for at least one more out-of-character Spring-like day next go running...or riding...or heck, maybe just walk around and drink it all in...while admiring the...President's Day decor? Ha!

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