Thursday, December 14, 2006

Rethinking Winter

The recent spate of warm weather may not be great for skiers and snow boarders, but I'm loving every Fahrenheit of what has to be an unintended consequence of global warming.

Normally, by the middle of December I've already resigned myself to spending most of the next three months indoors, wearing multiple layers of clothing and dreaming of beaches in semi-tropical climes. After last winter, and combined with the unusually warm temperatures in the area, I'm rethinking this winter in grand and unusual ways.

On Tuesday, I spent the latter part of the afternoon drinking a few brews and cooking out on the grill in my back yard. The experience raised a number of issues, not the least of which was the realization that I'll need more charcoal if winter fails to materialize in all its usual blustery glory. The weather has generally been warm enough to allow comfortable outdoors grilling more often than I'd thought possible. I noticed that I haven't brought the garden hose inside yet. Maybe I'll just leave it out all winter.

Additionally, my beer budget will have to be reworked since being outside is much more amenable to downing a couple of cold ones than the indoors experience. And so too, my exercise routine is being reworked. Instead of the stationary bike I usually pedal during the cold months, I've tuned up the regular 12-speed that I ride the rest of the year. Sadly, most outdoor tennis courts are without nets, but the positive part is that I won't be hitting any practice serves into the net.

The whole experience has been eye-opening to me and consequently has engendered a couple of firsts for me. Last winter was the first time I could recall that I did not shovel any snow. Having lived in Rochester or Syracuse through roughly 45 winters, I have a solid memory of shoveling. Never before has the shovel collected rust rather than snow.

The other first occurred this week when I turned the heat completely off for a full day. In my memory, I've never done that before during the month of December. Sure, it was a little chilly, but I'm expecting my gas bill this month to be a record low for December (oh, I can hear the screaming and wailing from the utility companies now... and I love it.).

Just in case there's any doubt about the effects of global warming, one might want to check out this article from the UK about the warmest Autumn in recorded history, with records dating back to 1659 (um, the United States wasn't even 13 colonies back then).

For the celsius-challenged here's a conversion calculator.

What troubles me about global warming is not so much the economic impact it's going to have on coastal communities when the sea levels rise to engulf multi-million dollar mansions, but that we have no reliable gauge to how warm our weather is actually going to be. I'd like to know if I can go out and enjoy a Saturday night on an outdoors deck instead of a stuffy bar or whether I should wear shorts and a tee or slacks and a sweater.

I guess I'll just have to play it by ear. In the meantime, I'm canceling my two weeks in Florida with a "why bother?" shrug and cleaning off my golf clubs.

And to those of you who shelled out multiple hundreds of bucks for a snow plowing contract... bad move.

I'll see you at the next luau...


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