Monday, December 14, 2015

Typical Decembler

While all the cool kids have been anguishing over climate change, I've been enjoying a perfectly normal December. So far this month we've had a daytime high of 66 and an overnight low of 15. Highs have averaged 49.38 and lows 25.69, compared to the long term (1893-present) average for December of 41.5 and 15.2, respectively.

At first glance, that might look like global warming, December's temps being 9.18 degrees above average. But keep in mind that the sample thus far contains only 13 of December's 31 days. It'll even out and by the end of the month the numbers will be very close to average.

How do I know? For one thing, the forecast is for colder weather over the next two weeks. We had snow on Saturday, following a couple of days of very nice weather. For another thing, I've experienced enough Kimball Decembers to know that the month always features warmish and coolish weather. And finally, daily weather data collected over the last 122 years shows the same thing.

Saturday evening was a treat. We were in the midst of what the National Progressive Weather Service calls a "winter storm" these days, and what normal folks call a little snow flurry. A weather front had moved in earlier in the day, nudging the mercury back down to the freezing point of water and pushing along an overcast that was soon spitting big white snowflakes. Delightfully, there was no wind.

As I drove from town to the ranch just after sunset, my headlights illuminated the big, soft, gently falling flakes. It was rather like being inside one of those snow globes, and the experience prompted a strong sense of déjà vu, taking me back in time. Hey, look, I figured out how to make the videos more bigger!

The memory I have from 40 years years ago is disjointed and incomplete. It was sometime between 1973 and 1975, and almost certainly occurred in December, close to the time of the winter solstice. It was early evening and the sun had already gone. My brothers and I were forking hay and bucketing corn to our backgrounding calves in the dry lot behind the barn. It was dark, so we'd switched on the barn floodlights. As we worked the snow began to fall, big, soft, fluffy flakes tumbling straight down in the still air. The light of the floods turned our world into the inside of a snow globe then, too. It's a good memory.

By morning the weather front had moved through. Skies were clearing and it was cold and still. An astonishingly pretty morning. One of the things I love is the beauty of the prairie. I may prefer to live and work in the season of easy living, but winter has beauty every bit as powerful. The harsh conditions are also a foil against which the easy living time seems much more enjoyable.

My friend and fellow agriculturalist Elwyn sent this video of December 13 in Scotland:

And this one of the same day in Herefordshire:

And while we're at it, let's hear it for ice!

Stay well and enjoy the gifts of nature's seasons.

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