Flaking Out

There’s something magical about winter’s first snowfall. Those initial flakes floating down from heaven spark delight in the hearts of small children and purveyors of bread and milk alike. Since it happened today, it’s technically the first snowfall of autumn. Although I don’t think I need to be precise about the timing. New England doesn’t stand on formality where its weather is concerned. It will as happily snow in October as in April. There’ve also been April showers that have lasted until June. The days we New Englanders live for, however, are those unseasonably warm winter days when Jack Frost drops the snowball.

In New England, spring is unpredictable and summer is over faster than your cousin from Southie can sunburn through his t-shirt. That’s probably why there’s an unwritten local rule that when the temperature cracks 55°F, it’s time to break out the shorts and flip-flops. The name of the month makes no difference. As soon as the air temperature clears the threshold for frostbite, the local vibe is to let your knees feel the breeze.

Spring boasts iconic harbingers: Capistrano has its swallows, Japan has its cherry blossoms. Here in Boston, we have guys in shorts at the gas pumps. The only problem is those guys are also out in force during a 35°F January thaw. It can be confusing for the casual onlooker. Sometimes warm weather is a state of mind.

For now, spring is a long way off. The start of astronomical winter, the winter solstice, is 9 days away while crystallized wonder falls outside my window in the first weeks of meteorological winter. The climate here couldn’t care less which weather calendar you use. Neither can I. On the shortest day with the longest night, my inner druid will wake and check her weather app. If the temperature is right, she’ll be on her way to her Yuletide celebration in shorts and flip-flops. But first she’ll stop and get some gas.

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