Always a flip-flop day here

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Here I sit on the last day of January 2012 watching the sunshine create patterns on the curtains as it streams in the window. This is supposed to be the heart of winter in south Alabama, but it looks and feels more like early spring.

To say this is a strange winter is an understatement. We have two days of cold temperatures followed by a day or two of moderate weather, then an unseasonably warm day that ushers in rain and another two days of cold. It is like riding a weather roller coaster and roller coasters leave me feeling unsettled.

I’ve heard forecasters predict that the freezer door will swing open in February and arctic cold will plunge southward. Perhaps that will happen, but on this January morning it seems winter is on its way out.

Of course, on Thursday we hear from the most reliable weather predictor, the groundhog. I have to remind myself how it goes with the groundhog thing. If he sees his shadow, it means six more weeks of winter. If he doesn’t it means an early spring.

This got me wondering if there are others ways to tell if winter is on the wane, and there are some. For instance, temperatures are warmers. Not sure that applies since it can get warm in December around here.

Another indicator is mosquitoes. Well one bit me yesterday — so hello spring. I read that a sure sign of winter’s demise is the arrival of flowers and bulbs for sale in garden centers. I’d add the appearance of grills and patio furniture to the bulbs and flowers. Of course that means in Covington County, winter ends pretty much the day after Christmas.

Spring is coming, it says, when people dress differently. You know, less clothing, more skin. I’m not sure that works here either because you see people wearing flip-flops and shorts most any day, and that includes the freezing days.

Seeing the first tulip is supposed to be an announcement of spring since they don’t require real warm weather to bloom. Well, I have one confused azalea with two bright red blooms open and a yellow jasmine soon to be in full. I know it’s not tulips, but it is spring flowers and they are blooming.

I also read that winter is over when barbecue season begins. However, barbecue season never ends here so you can’t use that as a measure of winter’s end. I mean it can­­ be 18 degrees and sleeting and some dedicated soul will have a grill going and will probably be sporting flip-flops and a Jimmy Buffet tee shirt.

As I sat looking at the sunshine filtering through the trees, I considered whether I’m ready to say goodbye to winter. I couldn’t answer that question since I don’t feel like it has been winter yet.

One question I might be able to answer is why the mild winter. Now I know this is only a theory and not nearly as scientific or accurate as the groundhog’s ability to predict spring, but it could explain the unseasonable temperatures.

So here goes. The reason for our mild winter is — are you ready– I bought two pairs of cute boots designed for cold days and I really wanted to wear them a lot. Alas, Mother Nature is teaching me a lesson — just because you have cute boots, it doesn’t mean you get to wear them. Don’t count your chickens before they hatch or buy boots counting on a freeze — something along those lines.

So I suppose I’m content to wait and see if spring really is about to spring forth or if winter has one last hurrah left. Either way I think I’ll put on my flip-flops and enjoy the sunshine on this last day of January.