Christmas in October
Michael Ubaldi, October 2, 2003.
For the last three days, the sky has been filled with low, leaden clouds that turn pink and purple past four o'clock in the afternoon: snow clouds. Yesterday's high temperature reached the mid-fifties, but last night's lows dipped into the thirties. I was just ambling into my car this morning when the same heavy ceiling dropped a few hard, heavy droplets onto the pavement - somewhere between hail, sleet and snow, but close enough for me. I half-expected the local, Classical NPR affiliate to spin a few winter jingles but the news had already begun; so I gave Sleigh Ride a couple of acapella verses and choruses as my car sped down slick lanes, snow-dusted houses and lots on either side. October 2nd? Old Man W.'s on the ball!
Now we can all admit to, at one point or another in our childhood, seriously anticipating a Christmas season identical to the New England standard: no grass to be found for six months out of the year. Some want no part of it - but others, like me, can't get enough. The early Eighties proved to be rich snow seasons for Ohio; 1982, I seem to remember, was a landmark year with a four-foot-drift storm in January or February. Volume petered out over the years, leaving us with a good number of Green Christmases, until the mid-Nineties gave much of the Rust Belt and East Coast muggy, brown winters culminating in "Christmastime in Georgia," as my New Jersey-expatriate uncle put it. 1995's winter break was heralded by a mini-blizzard, but it was the exception. Not pretty. And if the weather can't crack the freezing point, I'll defect and ask for sunny-and-seventy.
Fortunes changed over the past four years: since 1999, snow has dropped in the nick of time for the 25th. Last year bore all the signs of my mother's fabled Michigan Christmases of the 1950s and 1960s: a White Thanksgiving; snow early, snow often. Christmas was picturesque, and the cold spell was drawn out until late January. This year, the Old Farmer's Almanac is predicting a strong winter; my own observational understanding holds that the wetter and stormier the summer, the more solid and snowy its following winter. The past four months couldn't be classified as mild, so I'd consider today's little introduction to the fourth season a trusty harbinger. Time to hunt for the gloves, overcoat and hat.