Wednesday, January 8, 2014

The Weather


The Weather

My father liked to watch the weather.  Please don’t mistake this beloved habit of his with watching the weather”man”, or as he or she prefers to be called, the meteorologist.  You know, the chap on television news who tries with utmost conviction and gravity of expression to convince his audience that any rainstorm just might hide a hurricane and dark skies could portend the apocalypse easy as not.  No my Father had little confidence in these learned souls.  He simply walked outside and studied the clouds.  

“Those are snow clouds", he’d tell me as my eyes followed his pointing finger up to a  glowing grey sky full of ponderous clouds that seemed to be concealing something, as though crowds of performers were silently gathering behind the folds of silver theatre curtains waiting only until their numbers were such that they pushed through, rushing out to fall on the stage of the world.  Droughts worried him, wind fascinated him, and he simply loved the cold.   I can see him in the favourite soft grey coat he always wore when I was little, a coat too heavy for cool weather, a coat only pulled out when the conditions turned arctic.  He’d stamp his feet, clap his hands together, as he made his way outside in the cold, returning red-cheeked and happy.

Such is the mystery of inheritance, I suppose, because I cannot deny, even as I pile on another knitted shawl and one more pair of socks, that my heart skips a beat whenever  polar air pierces the Mason-Dixon line to visit the South.  It’s a rare thing, after all.  We Southerners could fairly be described as having a rather hysterical reaction to any forecast of authentic winter weather.  Schools close right down, for days, at the merest dusting of snow.  The most microscopic measurement of ice on the roads completely erases any ability we may possess to safely operate an automobile, and before the weather hits we all head to the market, en masse, to strip the shelves of those things we feel we cannot successfully exist  without.  We put on quite an entertaining show.

 So naturally, yesterday when the meteorologists trumpeted our forecast of “the Coldest Weather in Over a Decade”, we joined our friends and neighbours at the market for our own “essentials”.  The Songwriter gathered the ingredients for his famous chili.   I scampered up and down the aisles pulling down clove-scented bubble bath, tangerine tea, bouquets of fresh roses, Gruyere cheese, and apple-flavoured dog bones.  
Essentials, don’t you know.  

We arrived home just as the first pinpricks of sleet were pinging the pavement.  I wound the most delicious lavender wool into balls for a new sweater.  The Songwriter stacked firewood.  Edward and Apple curled up in favourite chairs.  Extra quilts were put on the bed and hot water bottles were filled and buttoned up tightly in their cashmere covers.  And then, we waited.  Waited for the needles of glassy sleet to rattle and tingle at our windowpanes.  Waited for the polar wind to sing its high-pitched songs round the eaves of our bedroom.  Edward sighed. We heard the owls call out in the darkness.  

Perhaps a long walk tomorrow?
I do have my Father’s old grey coat, after all.

Is it winter where you are?

34 comments:

  1. No Pamela it is summer here in Sydney Australia but the clouds and showers have rolled in today. We need rain so badly in the inland but it is just falling on the coast. However I love your story of the cold. I have never seen snow and just imagine how it might be. I do love winter.

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  2. I chuckled when I read your account, because even though I live in Canada, I live in one of the only two cities that seldom, if ever, get snow. On those rare occasions when it does snow in Vancouver or Victoria, it only takes about half an inch to send people scurrying to the grocery stores beforehand, bring traffic to a standstill and cause schools to be closed. I'm surprised the rest of Canada hasn't drummed us out for being so decidedly un-Canadian!

    So while most of Canada is currently experiencing incredibly cold temperatures, snow storms or ice storms, I'm sitting here in Victoria wondering whether to take my umbrella with me when I go for a walk tonight.

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  3. It's in the 70's here in Montecito. I miss Atlanta ice storms where no one can negotiate the icy roads and everything shuts down. We do light a fire in the evenings. I enjoy the pictures you create with words.

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  4. Yes, 70's here in Orange County, CA. Evenings are sweater weather. No sign of winter here(sigh). Winter through your words is enough for me. Brrrr. Marisol

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  5. I live in the same town as Squeak and her account is accurate. People here don't know what to do with snow or ice, either. Our mild winter, thus far, is barely deemed Canadian. I'm hoping for a good dump of snow.

    Your father's coat must wrap you in memories.

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  6. You live right at the center of BLESSEDBE! Here in New York City we ar hunkered down for the oncoming "Arctic Vortex" winding it's way toward us tonight. Tomorrow, I have NO appointments but with my comforter :-)

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  7. Have you ever seen sun dogs, dust diamonds and frost feathers? It was cold enough here in Chicago today for all of those...such lovely rarities.

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  8. It is winter, indeed, in the south-central mountains of Colorado! Little snow on the ground in town; the local ski area is a different story, however. Plenty up there, although they would welcome a foot or two of fresh powder! The arctic cold reached us, as well, though not as fiercely as other places. I stoked the fire at 3 AM last night to ward off the single digits we awoke to. I'll admit winter is my least favorite season (though I do love winter clothing and cuisine!), but it does make me appreciate the other three seasons all the more--especially our glorious Colorado summer! How long ago and far away it seems!

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  9. bouquets of fresh roses…where on earth do they come from at this time of year???

    it is summer here in australia…but actually it is such a cool summer that it doesn't feel quite right at all!

    and with an old grey coat, there is nothing, absolutely nothing, more magical than a walk in the cold brisk air. enjoy!

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  10. George Gissing wrote: "For the man sound in body and serene of mind there is no such thing as bad weather;
    I love this quotation but appreciate it's not always that simple. Stay safe everyone.

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  11. "For the man sound in body and serene of mind there is no such thing as bad weather; every sky has its beauty...."

    Oops sorry, the most precious part to me is the last 5 words, that I somehow managed to chop off

    "Every sky has it's beauty"

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  12. And here in deepest France profonde we're sitting outside on the terrace having lunch in unseasonably warm weather. It can't,of course, last.

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  13. Noooo..its like Spring...I would love a little winter coming our way!!
    When you see it send it to the Hilltop..:)

    Happy New year..

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  14. ooh and in Holland we are also always acting silly about the weather! Luckily I have a very talented mouse in the house..Miss Moussie knows...She knows her clouds..like your father :)

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  15. Setting the scene at Chateau Mango: It is time to catch up with Pamela's blog. Doing so is a treat, requiring a pot of tea and music. My choice today...the soundtrack from Julie and Julia and a pot of Kusmi Tea "Anastasia" ( Early Grey, lemon and orange blossom). Mission accomplished.

    I have to say I was thrilled to read your enthusiasm for a spot of winter wonderland. It feeds my New England soul...especially thoughts of soft grey coats and lavender wool. I thoroughly enjoyed your shopping list..the very best kind of essentials!

    I could hear my father as you described your father, I always do. His twinkling blue eyes took in every nuance of the sky and he was always happy to retreat to a day of stoking a fire while watching old movies...those were the days. Weather and tomatoes...he loved to talk about tomatoes...growing them, eating them, marinating them...and growing them again.

    So many memories when I visit with you Pamela...and my favourite of all will be our shared love for our father's watches.

    Off to your next post, I am way behind. You got me on "novel" from your comment today...I am on the hunt.

    Always a pleasure my friend..enjoy the balmy weather...love to you and your Songwriter. I hope you are both in good health!

    xx

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  16. I love your postings and here in Ontario Canada we are having our coldest temps in about 20 years and had lots of snow on the weekend.

    Much love

    Stay safe and warm

    Love Jeanne

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  17. I love your shopping list. I think I am to practical. Next time, and I really hope that there is not a next time, I am adding flowers and tea to my list. Last night it was -13 degrees actual and who knows what that worked out with wind chill and the snow is piled over 10 feet tall at the end of our cul de sac. I don't think we will see grass until the end of April!

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  18. i live here where the "wind comes sweepin' down the plains" and when the ever present wind is joined by single digit temps...
    it's bone chillin' cold!
    i could just see your father stamping his feet ... and the clap of his hands and his cheery pink cheeks. what a wonderful memory.
    i'm a fellow weather watcher.
    and sky watcher period. anytime! xo

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  19. Cold here in DFW! Up early to fill the kettle and pour hot water onto the frozen bird bath so that the small birds and squirrels have a bit of water along with filled feeders and scatterings of bread bits, nuts and other small scraps of veggies! Please remember to feed and offer water to birds and squirrels! Cheers! Jan at Rosemary Cottage

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  20. Oh yes Pamela, it is winter alright but it is rain and wind rather than snow. As we live on high ground this is a blessing as we are not prone to flooding and if we get snow we do get rather a lot. Keep warm by that log firm. In emergencies cuddle a dog - he will keep you warm.

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  21. A fellow southerner here unused to such cold. My phone said it was 5 degrees when I got up this morning, windchill in the negatives. My sympathies go to those in the midwest and north - I simply don't know how they manage at 30 or more below! My husband, hardy soul that he is, took the dog on a short walk first thing this morning. I, of course, stayed under the covers. We had a 'warm-up' - ha! - to the cold weather last Friday when we were staying at the mountain cabin - woke up to 7 degrees and snow and ferocious winds. Our kind neighbor plowed our steep drive for us and we were able to get out the next day, but I enjoyed a day inside reading by the fireplace, interspersed with eating and gazing out the window. When the wind died down and it got up to 18 degrees I went out for a short walk, so I wouldn't feel like a total slug. Our dog Maddie loves the cold weather and isn't bothered by a little snow. She lay contentedly on the front porch gazing out into the woods until I made her come in.

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  22. I love that your father would just step outside and look at the clouds... that's pretty much me!

    Today we were driving parallel to the snow-capped pyrenees and my heart it did begin to sing... We have been enjoying the warmth of Southern Spain and Portugal, but felt a yearning to head north ;-)

    Happy New Year Pamela - I hope you get snow sometime x

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  23. Oh! Please send us some of that weather this way. It's been in the 80's with draught conditions....of course, it's a great time to visit LA if you want to get warm.
    Mary

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  24. Pamela, your description of southerners' reaction to inclement weather made me laugh! It reminds me of the way we react here in Los Angeles. We are just not used to it and so we over react! I loved your description of getting ready for the storm. Sounds so cozy!

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  25. Hi Pamela!!!

    I laughed reading Squeak's comment about living in the two cities that doesn't get a lot of snow. She lives in Victoria and I live in Vancouver and we've had two snowfalls this winter so far, but, it never stays around for more than two days.

    I love the way you described your dad and the way he read the clouds and told you what was to come. We learn so much from our parents that carries us thru with warm memories when they are no longer with us.

    I love reading your Blog and it puts a huge smile on my face when I see you and Edward's picture. He certainly is a beautiful dog!!! And if I can say, 'You are drop dead gorgeous!!!!'......I had to tell you that because sometimes it's nice to hear!!!

    Pam

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  26. It is always a delicious treat to read one of your post. This one is particularly dear, as a southern girl I know so well the trek to the market after the first warning of snow flurries. Now that the Christmas rush, I cannot think of anything better than a couple of snow days (we didn't get the snow this time) as a result of an inch or two of snow. Stay warm and enjoy! Bonnie

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  27. My dad use to go out to look at the weather also + grand memories + thank you...

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  28. No, Pamela, sad to report that (a winter loving person) have not had my share of "winter". We've been experiencing an unusually warm past 3weeks. :(
    Karen

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  29. Happy New Year to you and Edward, may your days be filled with walks and tails a wagging.

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  30. Happy New Year!
    But APPLE flavoured dog bones….?
    (Only in America).
    My Dad still has a his World War Two grey wool RAF great coat. My mother recently asked me to carry it upstairs and my first thought was "can't you do that yourself". Then I picked it up and saw clearly how it was to heavy for an arthritic 83 year old to lift. Kept Dad nice and snug when based in Northern Scotland in 1944-5 though!
    Here in UK it has been unusually mild, wet and very windy. All part of the same climate system as your polar vortex apparently. Another example of how interconnected we all are.
    Cheers,
    Gail.

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  31. LOVE YOUR BLOG!! I too am a weather buff with little but well-deserved scorn for the tv weather prognosticators esp. here in western Oregon. We had our winter last month, unfortunately, the snow did not linger til Christmas no matter how many times we played Bing Crosby singing you-know-what. Now it's just day after day of gray, gray, gray. The horses are in and bored silly, my Jack Russell does not want to get his tush wet by going outside to check his p-mail, and the soil is so saturated with wet that the grass is turning brown where the dirt is floating up from under. What is one to do on such an afternoon? Why, go look at clouds and to do that without having to put on rain gear, boot up the computer and go visit the cloud appreciation society (cloudappreciationsociety.org). Happy cloud hunting! Check out roll clouds, fire rainbows, and mammatus clouds and other exotics!

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  32. Such a welcome, Southern winterly post, Pamela.
    Here on the Cutoff, about 15 miles from Lake Michigan and Chicago, we are tonight a balmy 9°, which seems warm compared to our subzero temps of the past few days.

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  33. I've heard that you've been getting a Maine winter down south. It's been cold, often sub zero, even for Maine. Like your dad, I love the snow but the ice is no fun. I enjoyed skiing with Scout last week but after the freezing rain I'm tramping round on snow shoes. Scout doesn't seem to mind except when she cut her pad on ice.

    We both enjoy warming up by the wood burning stove while I read and write. I'm curious to hear what you make of The Goldfinch, it does seem your type of book if a bit dark. You'll love the antique furniture and art parts.

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  34. While you are having such a cold winter in America, here in the North of Spain we are having a specially mild winter. No sweaters, no shawls, no blankets, thoug I go on knitting and waiting...

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I love to read your comments! Each and every one!