Stuck in the thick of it, those plunging temperatures, bitter winds, ice-slicked roads and sidewalks, it can feel like this will be our world from here on out, nothing for it but gray, gloomy skies and the isolation of the polar darkness we experienced just a short week or so ago.

And then, there’s a day like today! Bright-lit & mild, calm and peaceful, sunshine just oozing through the late December air. Our car’s temperature gauge delivered us the magnificent news: fifty-six glorious degrees! Not that we needed a digital device to tell us what a wonderful day it was for our walk, puppy straining at his leash, a broad canine smile and merry eyes that would melt any human’s heart.

Oh, there will be more nasty winter weather to come, no doubt. This is Iowa, after all. We’re hale, stout, hardy creatures, those of us who’ve lived here our whole lives. We’re used to it. We can handle the tough stuff, even with three to four months of winter spread out before us. No matter. It won’t last forever, despite the doubt that sometimes creeps in. Spring, that now-elusive delight, is something we ought not to tempt ourselves with just yet. It, after all, isn’t even the first of January yet! But, still, we can tuck it away, that certain knowledge that warm, sunny, balmy weather will inhabit our days before too (terribly) long.

Today, just for today, I can deal with that.

mangled, dry, a crisp crunch underfoot

the last season’s mowing more than a month past

all that remains until the cover of not-yet-come snowfall

is to pick up after puppy, his leavings throughout the yard

fairway #4 spreads out beyond the wrought-iron fence

the trees and the pond, trending of late with Canada geese

and a different manner of leavings…

all of it this morning blanketed in a mist of hardened nightfall

beautiful in its uniformity, somber under the weight

of what lies before us

No snow yet and temps continue their mild streak again this week. Perfect for taking long walks with puppy but snow – for Christmas – would be lovely. There’s still time of course, but a winter wonderland lends a seasonal framework for holiday cheer, snow lightly falling, Nat King Cole in the background singing of chestnuts and open fires, children sledding, their rosy cheeks and smiles as infectious as all get out, warm mugs of hot chocolate in hand and all that white beauty, well, it really does just do a body – and soul – a whole lot of good.

Precipitation is necessary, too, for Iowa crops next spring, for its rivers, streams and lakes, for trees and grasses, bushes and shrubs, tulips, crocuses, daffodils and luscious green hostas bordering April/May flower beds. The last several winters have produced little, and sometimes, NO snow. More and more, I’m hearing others echo my same concerns over this troubling lack of winter precipitation and warmer temperatures during the dormant months of December, January, February and March.

The climate here in central Iowa (and elsewhere) does appear to be shifting, changing, morphing into something other than what I’ve experienced – and loved – throughout my sixty-one years on this planet. Disclaimer: I adore each one of Iowa’s four seasons! However, extreme weather is another shared – and talked about – new phenomenon. This past year began most noticeably (following yet another above average warm, dry winter) with roller-coaster ups and downs of abnormal-for-the-time-of-year temperatures and precipitation.

April 2018 was frigid. May was HOT. Summer was a beast (delightful spring days skipped us entirely). Autumn, surely, would not disappoint. Oh, how I eagerly awaited those beautiful blue skies, colorful fall foliage and cool, crisp October afternoons.

Um, no.

It rained and rained and then rained some more. And it was COLD, not pleasantly, achingly refreshing cool and crisp but downright bitterly uncomfortable, windy, damp and miserable.

Who knows what the winter of 2018-2019 will bring? Right now – and at the moment I’m not really complaining, mind you – we’re enjoying some mid-December warmth and bright sunny days. I can’t help but wonder though if this isn’t a harbinger of what the next four months will be like. While I do like it now – today – it’s not what I want, like or expect of the most wonderful time of the year, let alone Old Man Winter.


Climate change? You really do have to wonder.