As I write this piece, it’s 8:21 in the morning, December 28, 2021. The temperature outside is 68 degrees (20 degree for my friends who live beyond the border of the U.S.). This weather has prompted me to jot down a few thoughts about weather when I was a kid growing up in rural, Cross County, Arkansas.
If you follow my blog, you might remember a series I started back in August of 2020, where I shared a few stories about growing up in poverty yet supported by strong family and community. This will be my 12th contribution to this series. I stopped writing posts to the series in October 2020. I’m going to try my best to pick up more memories from decades gone by and share them in my little comfy space I’ve purchased in the blogosphere.
The weather in Arkansas has been strange this December. Three days ago, it was Christmas, and the temperature was 80 degrees. I won’t convert this to Celsius. If you’re used to metric methods of measuring temperature, take my word, it was hot! Anyone used to the weather in Arkansas, knows that it’s common for temperatures to rise occasionally to a comfortable early spring level, for a day or two. However, this December has been uncommon, in my non-meteorological opinion.
Sitting in my humble abode on Christmas day, feeling discomfort from the unusual heat, I simply pressed the button on my thermostat to activate the air conditioner. Yes. I turned on the air conditioner in December. What a difference six decades or so make. From what I can remember, we never experienced warm spells of the length we’ve had this December back in the 1950s and 60s. We started wearing winter outerwear during the first of October and wore it regularly until the last part of March. It also snowed more back then, too. Snow brought with it challenges, trying to stay warm, and joyful experiences, making, and eating snow ice cream. We weren’t concerned about environmental impurities in snow as today. A little bit of powdered sugar and vanilla extract mixed with snow was quite tasty.
On the issue of trying to stay warm. We lived in houses that were more appropriate for living in a tropical climate, no insulation, no central heat, no environmental-altering technology, except for a wood-burning stove in the living room. The cold, northern winds were successful in finding their way through each crack between the clapboards. I don’t remember any Christmases with temperatures akin to the kind we had three days ago. When there was a white Christmas, we all sat snuggled by the wood-burning stove, but not too close. The heat from the stove would slowly burn you if you didn’t pay attention.
What a contrast, back when I was a kid, we would’ve loved central heat to protect us from the winter chill, which seemed colder than what we experience now. Now, we find ourselves turning on the air conditioner in December. We now have the financial resources to afford contraptions to cool in summer and het in winter. Not to sound too much like a complainer, but it would be nice to use each contraption for the season for which it’s intended.
Oh, the weather forecast calls for the possibility of snow in five days.
I’m old and blessed…hope you will be too.
I am looking forward to catching up on your 2020 series. The weather everywhere is unusual. Stay cool. Stay warm. Where appropriate!
New Mexico weather has been very strange, too. I miss normal.
You remind me of my childhood winters – coming in from playing in the snow and getting warm too quickly by an open coal fire gave us chilblains on our feet and hot-aches (pains in the hands as he blood flow increased). But we still loved the snow!
I’m looking forward to more of your series of childhood memories. I love those. Happy new year to you. Stay well.
These snapshots of the past will depend completely on my memory from this point forward, since the last of my family’s generation before me is now gone. Thanks for reading and for your feedback. Happy new year to you, too.