That Time Of Year

When you live in the mountains of North Carolina, each year always has one day when you know that the season has changed from fall to winter weatherwise. You go to bed one evening surrounded by balmy Indian summer like temperatures and wake to the sound of high winds and a 40 degree temp reading.

And the local forecast says that there is more low temperature weather in store for our future. It had to happen—it is just a matter of when and how much.

I remember when Sandi and I moved from Michigan to North Carolina and experienced our first winter. It would get very cold for a couple of days—maybe even snow—and then the temperature would moderate up for a time, the snow would go away and the Carolina Blue skies would invite us out for a late afternoon or Saturday stroll around our favorite lake. Unlike Michigan which would cloud up in late October and you would not see the sun again until April. There might be a few warming trends per winter but by and large the temperature would stay cold and the snow would get dirtier and dirtier during those winter months.

It was something you took for granted and learned to live with but always looked forward to warmer weather with a passion. We even brought our cross-country skis with us but sold them after a winter when we found out you couldn’t really depend on any regular snowfall or tempertures to go with it. We’d get a foot of snow one day and the next day it would be fifty degrees and we would be sitting on the front porch in our lightweight jackets getting a winter tan. I gues that’s why North Carolina is a leading retirement state—it’s all about the moderate weather.

Don’t get me wrong—we have all four seasons here—just not as extreme as in places north of us. In Michigan we had the “lake effect” snows—located as we were between Lake Michigan to the west and Lake Huron to the east. Some days it would take hours to shovel out the drive way in order to get to work—but most of the time we always made it in.

During my recent bike rides I have seen a lot of wooly worms on the road moving slowly from one side to the other. Most have been dark brown or black which, according to local tradition means a long cold winter. And it’s not like we don’t need the moisture—having been in nearly drought conditions for most of the year. It is a lot worse water-wise off the mountain. Heavy rain has a tendency to run off whereas snow will stay on the ground and soak in as it melts.

I don’t know what the almanac says about this winter but I do know it is about time to change my focus and begin to get serious about laying up some wood to keep us warm when the cold and windy days that are just around the corner are more normal than not.

Until then, maybe I will get a few more rides in and a little more garden cleanup taken care of.

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