December 31, 2002

January Thaw

Today we enjoy the mixed blessing of the January Thaw, a bit early this year. But why not. Every other aspect of the weather has thumbed its nose at the auspix and the prognosticators this year. Even a weatherman's air mass can be surly and mutinous, and likely without warning to aim a high-powered wind at Walmart shoppers in Texas; or in a different mood, that same bubble of air may decide to just sit down over Alabama, tepid and tame, and hold its breath until the Jet Stream tickles its sensitive underbelly.

The Mud Season starts for real sometime in late March, should the seasons relent their rebellious tirades and decide to play by the rules. The January Thaw is a teaser, a complimentary packet of mixed nuts, on the long flight to Spring. After more than a month of deep freeze, the subsoil is hard as iron, down to the frost line. The thaw this week has warmed and softened the top few inches which slip and slide around like choclate pudding on a rock. Pastures and fields are rutted with brown parallel scars from the feeding of livestock; cattle stand around in muddy boots, up to their elbows in pasture gumbo.

In town, the street is outlined in cinders and salt, marking where the gray mounds of snow have finally disappeared down the city drains, heading now for Little River, then north through the New, the Kanawha, Ohio, then south to the Gulf of Mexico. Here it will retire on a beach, with a sweet orange drink in a tall frosted glass with a saffron paper parasol. Meanwhile, a few shortsleeved human types busy themselves in the tiny heart of town, finding excuses to step outdoors onto the solid surfaces of sidewalk into the warm afternoon, to greet a neighbor before the real winter comes.

Cars and trucks along the street are gray-brown, the color of lost dogs. They seem embarassed to be seen looking this way. But what's the point in taking a bath, they ask? In this in-between chapter between pre-winter and real winter, the mud falls on the godly and the ungodly alike, so the Lexus and the farm-use truck next to it don't look all that different, mud being a great equalizer in Nature's homogenizing justice.

Posted by fred1st at December 31, 2002 06:57 AM | TrackBack

Oh, we have an Alabama native, Auburn University graduate, here who can settle this for me. Rob and I were talking about Bear Bryant and I thought he coached at Auburn. Correct?

I was actually looking for a picture of you or yours to use for an icon. I'll find one or take a piece of Opus One.

You've got some good stuff here. Enjoying your site.

Posted by: meg at December 31, 2002 05:53 PM

it sure was nice here in the Roanoke Valley!

Posted by: Sarge at December 31, 2002 06:45 PM

Just back from my old Virginia home in our newly mud-covered suv. A blessed new year to you and yours fred. Nice folks like ya'll lighten my heart and brighten my outlook. Thanks for being here.

Posted by: anne at December 31, 2002 07:05 PM

We're kind of going through a mini-thaw up here in New England, but that's going to end by tonight. The one advantage to this thaw is that it allows me to clean up the last vestiges of the Christmas Day Nor'easter from the sidewalk and the walk to the front porch of The House. But by tonight, we'll be back in the deep freeze.

Fred, I really like your blog! It's nice to see that there's someone else out there that has an appreciation for 'the small things'.

Keep up the good work.

Posted by: DCE at January 1, 2003 02:20 PM

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