Saturday, February 12, 2011

Winter in the desert

Arizona's had the coldest February days on record this year. Two weeks ago we had days that didn't break 44º, with nighttime temps in the 20's. I know it's no blizzard, but for Phoenix that's pretty cold!

I used to say winter was my favorite season. I liked that it was the down season, the one that ended a year and then brought in the next, gave nature a pause, started the wheel turning all over again. (I also like sweaters and boots and stripy socks. Winter was just my thing.) But years in the tropics have changed me: my blood is thinner, my hands feel stiff, I can't seem to get warm. I was fine in jeans and a breezy blouse last summer when the mercury was hitting 115º, but I'm at a loss now when it's barely above freezing in the mornings and I'm supposed to get out from under the covers. Really, who wouldn't rather stay cozy and cocooned?

Today was warm, so perhaps the coldest days are behind us now. Chinese New Year marked the beginning of spring in Taiwan a couple weeks ago, and this change in the weather feels a little familiar. Like the Taiwanese, I too will dress according to the calendar and not the thermometer. Will I jinx it if I say I think it's spring?

I'm going through some big transitions, have been for a year now. I'm not sure where winter falls in these seasons of change. Was it those last few months in Taiwan, when I was on the verge of crazy and wanted to stay under the covers until sanity returned? Was it after we landed, the lull between leaving one place and settling into another? Or the fall, once the transitions could be named and outward changes could begin to take root? Perhaps the whole year has been a kind of winter: the passing of one year to the next takes but one stroke of the clock at midnight, yet don't we feel it coming, mark its happening, and then spend weeks adjusting to the new year? And then how soon are we saying, February? Already?? Where has January gone? I can hope for time to pick up speed just a bit now, for my own spring to take hold and new growth to emerge from under the loam.