Regular readers of this blog will know that this jolly season coincides with my season of angst, when I prepare to join the flock of snowbirds and make my annual migration to Guanajuato, Mexico. Before leaving, every year, I agonize over missing winter with its white brightness and its cozy around-the-fire days, over the months-long gap in my commitments and friendships at home, over the sheer extravagance of it. Then, I pack my bags and go, knowing that I will feel a similar angst in four months when I make my return flight. Two lives, both of which I want more of. Greedy. I’ve written about this before.
This year, Jack and I decided to travel separately. I wasn’t ready to leave in early December, but Jack was. So, he’s been in Guanajuato for almost a week, and I’ll be home until next weekend—leaving just in time to join him for Christmas.
My plan was to enjoy a couple of wintery weeks here before heading south. Instead, December has morphed into March. A very wet March.
Now I know, before I even begin, that many of my local friends are about to remind me that the last two years have been horribly cold and snowy, and that I have absolutely no credibility when it comes to discussing winter weather since it’s been more than a decade since I actually hung around for more than a taste of it. I know, I know. They’re right. But surely, no one is finding this festive!
Today alone, Environment Canada is predicting that we will receive 30 mm of rain. If that had been coming down as snow, at a ratio of 10 to one—which is the usual calculation—that would be a third of a meter–about a foot. And it’s been raining for days. The ditches are overflowing and the water is over the road just a few houses down from us.
We’ve had green Christmases here before—though green isn’t the hue that first meets my eyes when I look out the window. Brown, grey, a bit of drab yellow, with—yes—a soggy carpet of brownish-green—interspersed with puddles—where lawns were last mowed in late October in anticipation of an imminent hard freeze. We did have a few hard freezes in November; nothing is actually growing anymore, though a few intrepid souls are still harvesting kale and Brussels sprouts from their gardens. In hip-waders, I imagine. The Echo River is roiling and brown. I have a single yellow pansy nodding its sad little head in my front garden.
I realize that most of the world—even most of North America—celebrates Christmas without any expectation of snow or even frozen ground. Growing up in central Pennsylvania, white Christmases were a treat—not an expectation. Somehow, we managed to feel festive anyway.
But I’ve lived in northern Ontario for more than forty years. Here, the odds of snow for Christmas are somewhere between 97 and 99 percent—though it’s true it’s often waited until almost the last day to arrive. Still, even with the combined effects of el Nino and climate change, I had reason to believe my delayed departure would give me a few sharp, crystalline days; it wouldn’t have been completely surprising to have a chance to snowshoe. Instead, I’m dashing through the rain and looking at temperatures ten degrees Celsius above normal, while listening to reports from the Paris Climate Talks: a twinkle of hope and an ominous reminder that green Christmases are the least of our worries.
I’d better stop grumbling, though. It’s true. I’m not going to be here for the long haul, when it’s minus 30 and blowing snow in the middle of January and the driveway is blown in and the cars won’t start and you’ve dropped your house keys in the snowbank.
And maybe, sometime in the next ten days, the rain will stop and the temperatures will drop just enough to deliver a white Christmas after all.
Wherever you are, whatever the weather, have a happy holiday! I’ll begin posting from Guanajuato again just after Christmas.