Note: This column appears in the 12/9 issue of The Glendale Star and the 12/10 issue of the Peoria Times
My wife subscribes to the weather alert application on her phone. Because we live here in the Valley, and her Blackberry does not, apparently, recognize center-of-the-earth-type heat as a situation that bears warning—it would get redundant, I suppose—this feature is barely utilized.
That changed last week when temperatures became unseasonably cool around these parts. As a result, my wife received two weather alerts on her phone, and each time we reacted as if our lives were about to change dramatically.
You see, when we lived back east, the first winter weather warning was darn near the most exciting thing that happened during the year. After all, it could mean that you wouldn’t be leaving the house for the next six days, and that you’d be utilizing the canned goods your dad stored up in the basement during the fall, and that you’d probably be going to school now until July. Being warned not to go outside if you were a certain age or you might die was kind of a thrill.
So we were disappointed when the breaking news emergency phone blast alerted us that temperatures in the Valley could drop to as low as 35-degrees overnight, and recommended that we wrap blankets—not around our bodies, but around any outdoor plants and trees that might suffer from the chill.
I have heard about this technique of wrapping up vegetation during the mild winter months, and I simply cannot bring myself to do it. For one thing, we own like two blankets, and I refuse to use them to tuck in our lime tree at night. Shall I offer it some hot cocoa as well? Sheesh. This also may explain why many of our plants are dead.
Another reason I did not prefer on this occasion to wrap up our outdoor plants was because it was too cold. While I rolled my eyes at this silly weather alert, I simultaneously realized that I have lost all of my east coast sensibilities, and 35-degrees is indeed too cold for me to venture outdoors.
This was troubling as well because part of being an east coaster is wearing the badge of honor in withstanding the extreme winter. The pride in being able to endure cold is the only thing that helps combat the horribleness of actually doing it. I am, apparently, no longer a member of that club. The naked east coast vegetation is tougher than me. What can I say? These Arizona summers have turned my blood so thin that I get the flu when it drops to 80-degrees.
Granted, I do miss the snow and biting cold of the east coast during this time of year, around the holidays, as well as my ability to withstand it. But those conditions are exactly what we moved here to avoid. After all, the first winter weather warning of the year was exciting. The 11th? Not so much.
Better yet, now that I think about, the meekness of the Valley winter is balanced out by my ever-decreasing ability to withstand even the mildest cold. So, it is like the winter all over again! Or, it was, at least. Daytime temperatures have since returned to the mid-70s. And hey—that’s fine by me. We were running out of canned goods anyway.