It just hit me the other day as I drove down Green Street. I spotted the hill covered in daffodils on the corner at Ridgewood and realized winter is over.
Oscar Wilde said, "Conversation about the weather is the last refuge of the unimaginative." Ordinarily, I'd be inclined to agree, but not this year. It's no banal conversation starter this year. It's a real puzzler. What happened to winter?
I can't speak for my brethren in the mountain counties to the north but here in Chicken City, it's been autumn for the last four months.
Even in areas renowned for their frigid winters, it's been downright balmy. Fargo had 40 degree days in January while at the same time it was 61 in New York. Parts of the Midwest saw temps that were 40 degrees above average.
A good barometer of how warm it's been is the sale section in any department store. There you'll find rack after rack of deeply discounted winter coats, priced lower than I've ever seen this early in the season. After all, who needs a coat when it's been sweater weather for months?
Since my younger daughter hopes to attend school in New Hampshire or Rhode Island next year, I jumped at the opportunity to grab a down-filled jacket that would be appropriate attire for the Arctic Circle. It was priced less than a bag of premium dog food.
The reasons for this weather anomaly are complicated and, at least to my decidedly unscientific mind, exceedingly boring. It has to do with there being no El Niño this year and something called the Madden-Julian Oscillation which changes the course of the jet streams.
I'll leave that mumbo jumbo to Karen Minton. All I know is, never mind not wearing white shoes before Memorial Day. Folks were wearing flip flops in February.
I've reached that venerable stage of life where I sometimes start a comment with, "Well, back when I was growing up ..." I'm practically old enough to be a source for some of Johnny Vardeman's columns. But what was I saying? Oh yeah, back when I was growing up, we had weather. Real weather.
I remember lots of snow days in January and February and awful ice storms in March. Snapped pine trees would litter the landscape like a giant's game of pick-up sticks and power outages were a given.
So far this year there's been none of that, giving municipalities a blessed reprieve from cleanup expenses and school makeup days.
This warm winter weather has any number of agricultural implications. Old-timers predict more insects this spring and earlier spawning dates for fish. With all the fruit trees budding early, I know peach and apple growers are fervently praying that the weather doesn't take a freezing turn.
There are public health consequences as well. As an asthma sufferer, I'm not looking forward to the rising pollen counts.
On the plus side, flu cases are well below the baseline on the Georgia Department of Public Health's graph. I'm no statistician, but that blue line hasn't crossed the red line since back in December and I suspect they're high-fiving each other over at the Health Department. At the CDC, they're probably breaking out the champagne.
As I look out my window at budding dogwood trees and listen to some of the most enthusiastic bird songs I've heard since last summer, it feels both premature and anticlimactic.
I suppose I've always seen spring as a reward for making it through yet another winter. If that's the case, it shouldn't be spring yet. We haven't earned it. As Anne Bradstreet wrote in 1655, "If we had no winter, the spring would not be so pleasant; if we did not sometimes taste of adversity, prosperity would not be so welcome."
Ah well, maybe this year spring comes as gift, like those times when love and forgiveness and grace are bestowed on us even when they're undeserved. And we all know those are the gifts that are the sweetest. Enjoy.
Teressa Glazer is a Gainesville businesswoman. Her column appears biweekly on Fridays and at gainesvilletimes.com/viewpoint.