Kage Baker was not personally fond of winter. She liked a lot of things that happened during winter – Dickens Fair, Christmas, early bulbs, sufficient rain, distant snow. But as she herself loathed being cold or wet, she only really enjoyed the winter through securely closed windows. And preferably in front of a fire.
She’d have been pretty comfortable this winter. It has not been especially evident in California, especially here in the South. Last winter – whoo hoo, we had frozen grass and mad storms even down here in Los Angeles! This year, not so much. In fact, it’s been getting slowly, steadily warmer all through January and February, as if winter is slinking away without anyone noticing it.
It was nearly 90 degrees today, and is still well over 70 as I write. The porch door is open, the Corgi trotting importantly in and out and making his nest in the shadow of the new wisteria leaves. The roses are all putting out new red growth, little flames on the canes I haven’t had the time to prune yet – I’m gonna be snipping frantically to avoid the growth nodes, which shouldn’t have happened for another month. Forgotten bulbs are putting up cautious little spear tips here and there.
Mind you, this happens in Southern California from time to time. I can recall many years when winter was a mild, halcyon season; everyone rejoiced then, with no fear of the onset of global warming. But a warm California winter isn’t a sign of global warming per se; seasonal fluctuations are not global trends. All this really means is we won’t have snow in the mountains, or enough water this summer.
Of course, March may yet drown us. That happens every few years, too – they always call it the March Miracle, and the newscaster weathermen have wild, grateful dance ceremonies where they sacrifice almanacs and interns. But it’s just that they don’t remember past years – it happens like this a lot. California has weird, custom weather, and the fact that we’ve all had to find our huaraches this month doesn’t mean we won’t be back in the mud boots come March.
I remember lots of years where Mamma draped us in drop clothes to get to church on Easter, lest the rain dissolve the starch that kept our outfits – from tiny veiled straw bonnets to little lacy socks – unnaturally crisp. Kage wore green, I wore blue, Anne wore pink, Kimberly wore yellow. We each had our colours and we were all 50% rayon and 50% Niagara Starch. Starched lace socks and petticoats and panties are a veritable purgatory through an Easter Mass, but not as dreadful as the sticky, clinging mess they dissolve into it rained upon …
So, anyway, it may yet rain like crazy. But not today. Today, it’s a balmy Paradise here. Birds are singing, including one lone and exquisite mocking bird that sweetens my nights of late. The camphor trees are thick with tiny white blossoms, and the warm days make all the street smell of incense and citrus from them. The hills are greening. Mock orange and real orange and lemon and tangerine and grapefruit are blossoming, creating banks of perfume like ocean fogs, with a scent you can drown in from sheer bliss.
I hope the rains come, I do – we need them. But one cannot ignore the glory of this early spring, either, or this confused winter, or whatever it is. The weather is marvelous. Kage would be rejoicing and out in the garden like the Entwife she was at heart, encouraging order and new life from the wildness in the flower beds. I’ve at least opened the doors and windows so the scents come inside to spend the day with me, and I can watch the late light on the new grass.
I figure, take it while we can. In a week it might be winter again.