Anne Notations

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

45 mph gusts

Our beach at 8:30 a.m., temperature 33, wind 30-50 mph. Click on photos to see larger.

I wonder what it's like to live in a year-round warm climate. My entire life has been spent in New England, with a four-year sojourn in a Chicago suburb – and let me tell you, the weather there made New England weather look like a day at the beach. It was the only time my parents ever purchased an air-conditioner, and (geezer alert!) we kids walked back and forth to school twice a day* no matter the weather. I was only 6 and 7 years old, and sometimes the snow was up to my waist and the windchill well below zero, but the sidewalks of Elmhurst, Illinois, were always shoveled and life went on, dammit! (*Why twice a day? In those days, most children went home for lunch. It was the 1950s, era of stay-at-home moms and neighborhood schools.)

Living on the water as we do now has made summers infinitely more bearable than they were in the scorching, humid city. I have always loved the crispness of autumn days, and the first half of winter is usually fun – visions of White Christmas and picturesque snow scenes. My biggest complaint with New England weather is that we have no spring to speak of. Winter drags on ad nauseam into March and April. Snowstorms in April are not unusual, and I recall the big snowstorm in early May 1977 that brought limbs (already in leaf) down all over the East Side of Providence. It's not until mid- to late May that I believe our brief spring is actually here.

In December and January, though, I'm OK with winter. We Northerners take a perverse pride in our stoicism in the face of needles of sleet, white-out driving conditions, bone-rattling winds, and black ice. We juggle two wardrobes – summer and winter, with some transitional clothes for the in between times – and know all about layering.

When the temperature is below 30F and the wind is blowing hard, I begin with lightweight "silk skins" longjohns, then thick socks, jeans (denim is great for blocking wind), a Cuddleduds insulated camisole, lightweight polarfleece shirt... Then I go downstairs to don a heavy Lands End parka, polarfleece hat, long muffler wrapped several times around my neck, lined leather gloves, glasses (they keep the wind off my eyes), and a pair of insulated boots from my collection of Sorels and Columbias. Then I'm ready to walk the dog.

It's amazing how warm you can get while walking even in hideously cold temperatures. Today I actually had to tug my parka's zipper down a bit at the neck and take my gloves off for a while, I was getting so toasty as Daisy and I strolled along the beach and across the peninsula for 40 minutes.

Roiling whitecaps ruled the bay. The wind was wild and insistent, blowing plumes of sand off the beach and into the parking lot. Gulls huddled in the little park, their rumps facing the wind.

As we strolled eastward and reached the lee side of the peninsula, the wind abated a bit and we admired a festive wreath hung over a post at the city boat-launch parking lot – deserted today, a stark contrast to the long lines of boaters in pick-up trucks who wait their turns in warmer months.

Inland a bit, a tangle of bittersweet vine made its last stand, and a near-lifesized Santa waved from a gaily decorated front porch.

We headed westward toward our street, the wind whomped us in our faces, lifting Daisy's ears straight up and making me gasp for breath. (How well I understand the nautical expression "into the teeth of the wind". For it bites.)

Up the porch steps and into the house – warmth! Food! A sunny spot on the couch, a cup of hot tea, and the day's newspaper! Such contrasts are what I imagine I'd miss if we lived in Florida or Arizona. Not to mention such sights as the dark winter bay dotted with restless foam.


  • When I lived in Indiana, it was the dreary length of the winter that wore me out more than the actual cold. I remember visiting a friend in Texas one March and then returning to Indiana. Leaving the warmth, sunshine and greenery of Austin to come back to snow and sleet was a serious downer.

    We hot-climate people suffer in the summer, when temps above 100 keep us inside and we get the southerner's version of cabin fever. But mostly, I'm just a sunlight addict and I love living in the south.

    By Blogger Miriam L, at Wed Dec 31, 02:43:00 PM EST  

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