let’s talk about the weather

(No, seriously!)

I was shocked when I moved to Tennessee as a freshman in college and my mom bought me an umbrella. “It’s summer, Mom,” I protested. California summers are hot and DRY. I did not need an umbrella.

It rained weekly in Chattanooga that summer and fall.

I needed an umbrella.

When winter came, though, I was sure I’d be prepared. I grew up in the foothills of the Sierra Nevadas. We skied in Tahoe when I was a kid; sometimes it snowed at home. I knew about winter.


My hometown on a wintry day.

I did not know about winter.

In an era of global warming, pictures like the above are becoming less and less common in my hometown. Most of California rarely sees a daytime high below 40°F (5.5℃); in Chattanooga, though, it’s common. I remember walking across campus that January and marveling that, at noon, I could still see my breath. I learned to wear gloves and scarves and hats in Chattanooga. I’d never really needed them before.


Ice skating, anyone?

This year, as a graduate student in Knoxville, I have again been struck by the weather. Although we haven’t had deep snows or sub-zero temperatures like other parts of the nation, we have had some really cold days — days in the low 20s that have frozen lakes and ponds . . . Days that chill you to the bone and require hot cocoa and cuddling by a fire (or, in my case, a heater) . . . Days when, to keep from going stir crazy, you put on six layers of clothing and go for a run to feel alive . . .

I remember really cold winters in Taiwan and Hong Kong, too. There’s something about humidity that penetrates the soul.

How do you feel about winter? What has your winter looked like so far this year (that is, if you live in the Northern Hemisphere)? What does it typically look like? (Share a picture of your weather if you feel so inclined!)

One touch of nature makes the whole world kin. William Shakespeare

Nature, to be commanded, must be obeyed. Henry Adams


Frozen solid.


It was 22°F and felt like 12°F (-5.6℃, or -11℃) with a when I took these photos.


Poor fishies!

(Ironically, while I was drafting this, it warmed up significantly here for a couple of days. I might even ride my bike tomorrow! . . . Of course, when I mentioned this to the lady at the dry cleaners today, she laughed. “Don’ be fooled! ‘Ees jes’ playin’ wid you. Winter ain’ over yet!”

18 thoughts

  1. Falling through ice is a big fear of mine! I remember it cracking when I was young and me getting on my belly so as not to break through. So scary!

    • I’d be terrified, too, Terri! Quite honestly, I don’t think I ever want to live in a place where you could ice skate or walk on local ponds comfortably. That’s just too cold!

  2. Good to hear it is a little bit warmer for you..and closer to the spring and summer for you. I really dislike winter, preferring tropical weather all round the year. Having grown up in Singapore and Malaysia, I suppose that’s the reason why, and I do not mind humidity one bit. Winters where I live in Melbourne in the vicinity of the city are pretty mild according to most people – around 3-13’C in the day in the middle of winter which to me is still cold, though. Give me summer all year round. That said, extreme weather is a danger and I guess at the end of the day, extreme temperatures aren’t the best.

    • Haha, yes, Mabel. It’s all what you’re used to! I do NOT like humidity — it does HORRIBLE things to my hair (lol)! But I can adjust to it when I need to. I wouldn’t like to live in a place with no seasons at all — well, unless it were like spring year-round. Summers are just too dang hot almost everywhere.

      And yeah, sadly the dry cleaning lady was right. It’s warmer today but raining, making it tough to go for a ride, after all. And by Saturday it’s supposed to be really cold again. Boo!

    • Concrete skies — I like that. Is it a COLD rain, though? California needs more of that. Every year my home state goes from being parched to flooded overnight.

      • Yes it’s a cold rain. we’ve been watching in astonishment the recent mudslides in California, so destructive to people and property, a right mess. Will stop moaning about our weather!

      • Yes, I was just looking at those articles myself. The fires at the end of last year didn’t do California any favors. Although I love many things about my home state, I’m not sure if I’ll ever move back permanently. It’s plagued!

  3. Having lived in Sacramento for all but the first of my 53 years, I can’t even begin to imagine living in a place where it gets that cold or where it snows regularly. I like visiting the snow and playing in the snow. I just wouldn’t want to have to deal with it for an entire winter. And the cold — I like the seasons we have in Sacramento. Lowest day time temps are in the 40s and that is only briefly, if at all each winter. Right now, it’s mid 60s day after day.

    • Yep. That’s the kind of winter I’m used to. I like it, too, because we have all four seasons, yet can still ride and run outdoors year-round. Here in Tennessee people have to resort to using trainers and going to spin class in the winter. The low temps and wind chill make riding outdoors unbearable.

      • I went for a Sunday morning run a couple of weeks ago. Along the American River Bike Trail. There was a steady wind of 15-20 miles per hour. Not a lot of bicyclists out that morning. I know I wouldn’t have tried to bicycle in that wind. Us Californians are kind of wimpy that way. And it’s hard for me to get up for a 8:30 run when it’s 45 or 50 degrees out there. Can’t imagine trying to run outside where you are. And bicycling? Not a chance.

      • I rode in the rain yesterday. Came back soaked to the bone, muddy, and exhilarated. The high was 58, and I just couldn’t pass it up! Tomorrow we’re back down to 30. :( But yeah… I can’t ride when it’s really chilly, either. My hands and feet can’t take it — the wind chill is just too cold. You do what you have to do, though, I guess. I’d far rather bundle up and face extreme temperatures than run on a treadmill. I will probably take some spin classes this semester, though, too. I did spin a lot last year and it definitely helped!

      • Yes 58 sounds okay for any exercise. I love to run in the rain. I feel exactly the same way afterwards. As for the treadmill — when I was running a lot more, I belonged to a gym and would go during the lunch hour and put in three miles on the treadmill several times a week. It was good for speed work. But these days, I just can’t see doing that anymore. Just far too important to be outside. Spin classes are always good as long as the instructor is good.

    • To clarify, I lived 48 of my years in northern California before moving to Arkansas a little over a year ago. So the cold I know. The heat and humidity in the warm months? I know that too. And the heavy thunder storms and possibilities of tornadoes in the spring. We have that here too. It is a meteorological roller-coaster ride of the largest extreme. I lover it here but long for the California weather sometimes.

      • Wow, John. Northern California to Arkansas — that’s a big switch, too! I haven’t spent much time in Arkansas–only driven through a small part (I think)–but yes, I imagine it can’t be *that* different from Tennessee. I too love thunderstorms, if not humidity, and fireflies!! Please tell me you have fireflies.

    • Thanks, Abdul. Yes, it was a pretty sight to see. Just wish it weren’t so cold!! I would love to get back to England for a visit someday. :) Thanks for reading and commenting!

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