Thursday, February 25, 2010

Winter Is Relative

Winter has definitely lasted too long when we greet 40-degree (Fahrenheit) temperatures with cries of joy. The snow following our two record-setting blizzards continues to be piled so high, in some places, that there’s a non-trivial chance some of it may hang around until the end of March. Having grown up in Norfolk, Virginia, 200 miles to the south, I have always thought of March as a spring month. Sure, it had cold, miserably wet periods and occasional snow, but in general we could count on some nice weather, too. In Maryland, the first half of March is still winter, and the second half isn’t reliably that great, either. The year we lived in Charleston, I was surprised to discover that South Carolina has the same winter temperatures as Virginia. It’s just that Charleston’s winter comprises only a few weeks surrounding Christmas and New Year’s. During our three-plus years in Hawaii, I became so acclimated to temperatures in the 70s and 80s that anything under 65 degrees felt downright cold. Oahu, however, like Southern California, does have a winter—otherwise known as the rainy season.

Remember the TWILIGHT ZONE episode when the world suffered a crippling, permanent heat wave? At the end, the protagonist woke up in a hospital to find the heat had been a fever dream, and the world was actually blanketed by snow. After her harrowing dream experience, she found the frozen climate a relief. It’s all relative.

Weather control is a familiar motif in science fiction. Many futuristic settings present as a given that the weather (at least in cities—often under domes) will be artificially controlled. An old anthology called HUMAN AND OTHER BEINGS includes a story about a married couple from an advanced planet assigned to Earth as part of a team installing climate control systems. In a rural area of the South, the couple gets attacked and the wife raped. At the end of the story, the husband uses his weather control equipment to create a storm that floods out the assailants’ town. In our current controversy on climate change, it seems to me that a warming trend is pretty clear, but the question to what extent human action affects the trend seems legitimate, as well as whether we can change the situation without side effects worse than the problem.

My aunt always says it’s a good thing God is in charge of the weather instead of us. Faith demands that I agree, but in practice I often wonder why we couldn’t arrange a climate like Camelot’s: Rain allowed only after sundown. Winter strictly limited to December through February. I’d love that.

Margaret L. Carter
Carter's Crypt

1 comment:

  1. Winter is variable - I mean, in some areas of the world Winter is warmer than English summer!

    I'm hoping the sn*w stays away for now though.