Monday, February 9, 2009

Climate Change

Talking about the weather is a small-talk staple, handy in almost any situation. But although mocked as a trite topic, weather is so much more than that. Rain, snow, sun, ice: weather forms an ever changing backdrop to our daily lives. The drama of a crippling blizzard or ice storm. The sensuous pleasure of  long, sunny days. The downright dreariness of a wet week. Our moods, outlook and health are affected by the weather. 

In New Hampshire's North Country, weather's impact goes even deeper. The tourism and wood industry based economies depend on the right weather to operate, whether concerning snowfall, leaf color or frozen ground to hold heavy equipment. We have such great dependence and so little control. 

Ah, a North Country winter. They start with spitting snow in October and end in April with frigid winds and a last snowfall or two. Spring is hard-earned, a sweet reward after an endurance test of below zero temps and towering snowbanks. Slippery roads and high heating bills. Inky, icy dark at four p.m. 

I spent twenty-four years in New Hampshire. I used to laugh at "snow-birds" and consider them wimps. I cross-country skied, snow-shoed, hiked and even camped (once!) in winter. The sight of pink alpine glow across the snow-topped mountains was one of my favorite sights. 

So what happened? I got tired. Tired of being cold for eight months each year. Tired of seeing fall come earlier and earlier. (like August 15th) Remember the dog days of summer--so hot the road tar was soft under your sneakers as you plodded to the lake? Despite reports of global warming, it seems like we're still getting long, cold winters but summers just aren't what they used to be. 

The weather was a big factor in our decision to move to Georgia. I'm a self-diagnosed sufferer of seasonal affective disorder. Endless gray days make me feel blah. Until you're out of it, you don't realize how stressful winter is, mentally and physically. And lately, economically. $4 a gallon heating oil drove me out. 

As I write this, on February 9, it is 72 degrees and sunny. There is a soft southerly breeze. I feel energized and optimistic. To me, a hot sunny day is like a Christmas present. And Christmas lasts nine months in the South.  

No comments: