The bad news is I may have missed the January thaw last week.
The good news is I was working in Florida when it happened. And they were apparently having their January thaw at the same time. It was sunny and 80 every day I was there.
But here's the ironic part. Many of the Floridians I was working with are transplanted Midwesterners. And they miss a lot of the very same January things we complain about.
Snow, for instance.
The people I talked with last week recall, correctly, that some of the prettiest days of the year are days when it snows. Snow, we all agreed, is a very special phenomenon. It changes the appearance of everything, generally for the better. It makes dogs and children want to play in it. It makes us look out the window much more often than we normally would. Snow makes the warm home, the crackling fire, the blue sky all wonderfully more intense. And January is usually the best month for it.
Cold has some of the same characteristics.
We complain about cold, too, but those transplanted Midwesterners I talked with remember walking into the warm school gym for a Friday basketball game, hearing the snow make its distinctive squeak on the very coldest days, feeling the rush of warmth and the overpowering smell of a roast as we come indoors on a January day, snuggling deeper inside the down jacket or comforter on a frigid night.
My Florida friends also recalled nighttime being memorable in January. And I believe they are right: the sky is blacker than black, the constellations leaping from it. And there is no better aid for sleeping than the unique, special silence of a frigid January night.
The January days they and I recall are quieter, too, with no lawnmowers or motorcycles, fewer barking dogs, snow absorbing the sounds, doors and windows closed tight, containing the noise within.
January sunrises and sunsets are often excellent, as well. Something about ice crystals in the atmosphere, I guess.
And now that my Florida friends have me respecting the good things about an Ohio January, I just thought of a few more.
The birds that themselves do not go to Florida are the most grateful for being fed in January. And that's when they are the easiest and most fun to watch. On the other hand, I don't know if they even feed the wild birds in Florida.
You can see other things in January that are obscured by foliage most other months. Take the handsome old interurban bridges that simply blend into their surroundings three seasons of the year. All of these remarkable structures like the one just off the end of Gibbs Road at Ohio 601 or the ones on New State Road. and just off Ohio 61 in Berlin Heights pop out of the landscape when the leaves are off the trees. I like it.
I also like that January gives you permission to not do a lot of the outdoor work that pressures you in the temperate months.
January, of course, gives us our best chance for a blizzard. Many people think of a blizzard as a disaster. It is not. Floridians know a disaster when they see one. A hurricane or tornado or flood is a disaster. A blizzard around here is an inconvenience. Wait two or three days and it goes away. In the meantime, notice how much fun everyone has staying home from the closed school or workplace; watch how helpful and neighborly they become in shoveling each other out; see how entire families pitch in with smiles on their faces to clear the walk or build snowmen or forts.
Yes, I think it was helpful for me to get the perspective of some people who no longer get to experience January the way we usually do.
And speaking of perspective, is there anything that makes you appreciate a sunny, warm day like a typical January in Norwalk? Well, they just throw away those kind of days in Florida. Ho hum, more sunshine.
Appreciation of the warm sun is a good thing. And January makes it possible for us.
OK, that does it. Bring on the gray skies and cold winds and blowing snow. If other people are envying that kind of weather, I am going to enjoy the heck out of it for the next 17 days.
That is unless this January thaw persists for the rest of the month. Then we will be just like those poor Floridians, walking around in their shorts and T-shirts in 76 degree temperatures (with a wind chill of 79), missing out on the Ohio winter everyone longs for.