Cold Hold


  • Willows in Huntington’s town park ignore freezing blustery gales.  Spring rushed in on unusual warmth following a mild fall and winter.  Now that crocuses show only green leaves, daffodils wave in the breeze, and cherries are in bloom, nature has slowed the pace.  What seem to be snowflakes driven by fierce winds are actually petals ripped from tree blossoms.
  • Much of life involves managing expectations.  Perhaps that is one reason TV weather forecasters love exaggeration.  Expecting a blizzard and receiving a few inches is a kind of present, while expecting a calm day and finding that same snow can be depressing.  In that sense, early April is one long deception, with predictions about as useful as wooden nickels.  But as the saying goes, if you don’t like it now, wait a few minutes.


Deadly April breeze swept through
Killing blossoms just begun
Chilling winds in spite of sun
Confounding truths I thought I knew
Cold this day which haunts my soul
Where went lovely restful scenes
Warmly yellow reds and greens?
When comes my summer soft and whole
Lusty birds shriek all is well
Ignoring freezes as they fly   
No reason for my mournful cry
I must adjust, escape this spell
I’m spoiled, I want just what I wish
Nature must conform to plan
I seek control, I am a man

But also webbed in all of this


  • Water can serve as a moderating influence during temperature swings.  Harborside generally blooms later than a few miles inland, but on the other hand it is rarely blasted when infrequent deep frost settles in from the Arctic for a few nights.  Nevertheless, temperatures in the low twenties can rupture cell structures, even for these weeds.  In a few days new growth will shoot up _ that’s part of being a weed, after all.
  • Hard time of year to be a farmer (well, being a farmer is always hard.)  Early fruit blossoms look wonderful, but such frost can kill many of the blooms and reduce the apple, pear, peach, and cherry crops significantly.  Unlike weeds, tree blossoms are one-shot each season; once lost the chance for fruit is gone.  As climate changes, people can huddle in houses, but perhaps the most dire effects outside of droughts are the massive storms, high winds, and sudden temperature variations.  We can live through most weather, but not if there is nothing to eat. 


I was just rounding the corner by Knutson’s Marina, finally shielded from a fierce north wind, when I saw Joanne jogging towards me, dressed in shorts and a light sweatshirt.  We both started to laugh.
Pointing at me, she ran in place “Jeez, you look ready for the next blizzard, Wayne.”
“Well, you look like it’s tropical beach time,” I retorted.  “My wife would say you’re gonna catch your death.”
“My boyfriend would claim you’re about to give yourself heatstroke.”
It’s true I was somewhat overdressed, with glove and knitted watch cap and heavy coat.  “Us old people,” I noted, “catch colds easily and find them hard to get rid of.”
“Nah,” she replied.  “I just saw an older guy dressed just like me.  He was moving faster too,” she teased.
“Knees,” I excused my speed.  “Anyway, how we feel weather is probably mostly in our heads anyway.”
“Well, the calendar says spring and in spring I wear shorts to exercise.”
“The thermometer says winter and I dress appropriately.”
“Ok, old guy, creak along down the road.  You’re missing the lovely sunshine.”
“If spring chicken doesn’t put on at least sweatpants she may miss next week entirely.”

We laughed at each other a
gain and continued our opposite ways on a morning that was apparently totally different for each of us.


  • Nature seems almost suspended, as forsythias and daffodils remain in full bloom, tulips advance slowly green upward, and early azaleas are hesitantly swelling buds.  Each walk on each day seems identical.  It had been thus, of course, each winter day, but expectations of activity are high now.  Weather is far warmer than it had been, but far colder than impatiently desired.
  • There is no garden work to be done.  Just wait a little while and storms will break, I tell myself.  Just keep walking and enjoying and looking.  But it almost seems a personal conspiracy of elemental forces, suggesting I use this rather as an end of hibernation, finishing reading and whatever, before rushing off.  I should accept this all gracefully.  I am not saintly enough.

We are all spoiled now.  Our ancestors were generally forced into daily or seasonal patterns.  Even with the use of fire, night was far different than day.  Food had to be stored carefully in fall for consumption during winter.  Crops had to be planted at the proper time, when even the moon was taken into account.
Now we throw a light switch for utopia.  Instant light and heat, constant entertainment, feast food by driving five minutes down the street.   Driving down the street, for that matter, without hitching up old Dobbin.  
Oh, I love being spoiled.  Being over sixty, especially poor and over sixty, was never this wonderful.  Louis XIV, the richest man in the world, was considered an incredibly ancient decrepit and useless man by the time of his death at 73.  Medicine and rising social standards of living have worked their marvels.  Rationally, I find my complaints such as they are trivial indeed.
And I am indeed caught in an odd state, like this week of April itself.  Rushing forward to summer, sap rising, grass growing, blooms swelling, sunshine longer, and a hint here or there of warm breezes to come.  Yet also holding back, enjoying what will soon pass, no more daffodils for another year.  If the world, or I, see another year and spring.  So I want to seize the life I have and enjoy it. 

But holding fast is always an illusion, even in this week of drip and bluster.  All will change instantly with a single day or two of southern winds.  Or, more personally, with one catastrophic or ongoing change to our health.


  • As often at this time of year, outside beckons.  Birds flit madly about the seeds in the birdfeeder.  Squirrels pursue their incessant chases and frolics.  The sky is wonderfully blue, at least when clouds temporarily part long enough to see it.  Sunsets linger into evening, instead of rushing by in the afternoon.
  • Time to change the wardrobe and rush out.  And then, I step into the cold, feel the raw damp draining all my warmth and good spirits.  Often I merely content myself with a few minutes of staring from the porch, perhaps a short stroll to see what’s going on in the front yard, and then back to waiting for what should be better times.  A great time to develop meditation and philosophy.  Unfortunately, that brilliant sun keeps distracting me.

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