<em>“You can cut all the flowers, but you cannot keep the Spring from coming.”</em>
In April of 1815, Mount Tambora, which is located on an island in modern-day Indonesia, erupted. As far as it can be measured it was a massive, world-altering event. The collocated mass of volcanic ash that was hurled upwards into the Earth’s atmosphere from Tambora was one of many naturally occurring environmental events during a five year period that led to 1816 being known as The Year Without A Summer. Yes, this event is indeed a proper noun.
The effects of this phenomena are easy to deduce. Just in the United States alone, personal diaries and scientific journals relay how the bizarre weather shifted from day to day; and the ruination of crops had a devastating effect on the economy. Two centuries ago, the American economy was still dominated by agrarian production. At that time, the Industrial Revolution–another proper noun–was in full vigor; and the Summer of 1816 solidified the direction America would take moving onward. Factories over farms.
Now, it is late February, 2015. Have you stopped writing 2014 on checks and documents yet? For us who live in Cache Valley, Utah this year could be known as the Year Without A February. Does that look right to you? Am I pompous for creating a proper noun out of an event? I am waiting for Regina George to admonish me for trying to make this a thing.
Was it really a year ago that I wrote a column on CVD entitled “<a href=”http://www.cachevalleydaily.com/opinion/article_40a42936-8eed-11e3-9127-001a4bcf6878.html” target=”_blank”>February-the worst month ever</a>”? And why isn’t that a proper noun? Do you remember last February? It was cold. It was indecently cold. Most Februarys are cold. And when you live in the mountains of northern Utah, well, it is not like any Major League Baseball teams have ever considered holding their spring training in these parts.
When you live in Cache Valley, you do not need to be an imbecilic member of the House of Stark to know that winter is coming. All you have to do is eat all of your kid’s Halloween candy and endure the 24/7 Christmas commercials that come the next day to know that it is time to pull out the winter coats and the snow shovel.
Bags of salt? Check. Six cases of canned soup? Check. Ugly thermal socks? Check. Hooded sweatshirt featuring the logo of an NFL team with a winning record? Check. C’mon winter, show us what you got!!!
But something strange happened. Winter barely raised a finger in ire at us. Oh, there was that storm the last week in December—but I wasn’t here for that. Since I am a narcissist that only sees the world through my biased lens, that doesn’t count.
But we all know when winter really kicks our chattering teeth down into our throat. February. That awful month. And so as the calendar turned and we all waited for Punxsutawney Phil–the most famous of climate change deniers–to give us the bad news, something wonderfully weird happened. It warmed up.
Great! A few days of tolerable weather before indefatigable gray skies and 30 inches of snow turn us all into Jack Nicholson, limping his way through the Overlook Hotel, axe firmly in hand. A brief respite from the inevitable brutality of Utah winters that makes me regret not taking a job once offered to me in the early months of 2001 in Phoenix, Arizona.
And then, the oddity. It stayed warm. Isn’t it great? We are walking around in windbreakers and t-shirts, not parkas and wool caps. Tights and longjohns have given way to shorts and sandals. The sun is out. People seem generally happy. The calendar says February, but it feels like late April. Even a salty, cynical curmudgeon like myself finds it difficult to be malcontented when the worst month of the year has seen such uncompromisingly beautiful weather.
We are the fortunate ones.
In the Northeast, they are being cudgeled with cold weather and a gauntlet of snow storms. Supermarkets in the larger cities back east resemble a Mad Max movie. Old ladies are piloting weapons-rigged shopping carts looking to impale those that have foraged the last gallons of milk. In Boston, a loaf of sliced bread is selling for $500 on the black market.
Hyperbole? Yeah, I made that up. It is still fairly close to a dystopian existence for those behind the Blue Wall. But here, behind the Zion Curtain, on the corner of Federal and Church streets…which I lovingly refer to as Ground Zero of the Cache Valley Counter Culture (what’s with the proper nouns in this column?), many like myself sit outside of Caffe Ibis drinking iced drinks whilst wearing short-sleeves. Hipsters play hacky sack in the parking lot. Car windows are opened. Insufferably snobbish cyclists wear those hideously garish spandex shorts unabashedly. Screw winter. This is fun.
All good things must come to an end. Does that platitude ring true to the current situation with our weather? Maybe. This is northern Utah. Two days of below freezing temperatures are the only criteria necessary for a blizzard to turn this place into a frozen Hell. But February is nearly gone. March and April bring forth the eternal hope that everything that dies someday comes back.
For sports fans, the void that is February gives way to March Madness (PROPER NOUN ALERT), aka, the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament. Some younger Utah State students might be unaware of this, but the Aggies used to play in this tournament years ago. We never won, but we were invited.
Then comes April, when the NHL and NBA playoffs start. And, most importantly, baseball is back. The fourth month is such a great time to be a sports fan—unless you live in Philadelphia. For the City of Brotherly Love, April is as palatable as roadkill doused in vinegar.
Do not attempt to ruin this great weather with news accounts about farmers who believe this anomaly will negatively impact their crops; nor should you try to put on the green robes of the Church of Global Warming to tell me this weather is another sign that the end is nigh. I would more readily and eagerly believe that the debris from that Chinese rocket we all saw in the night sky Monday was a sign from God to repent.
Life can be a horrible thing to endure. It is the little things, aesthetic pleasures, that get us through our daily lives with a smile on our faces and a happy song in our hearts. It is much easier to smile when it is 50 degrees outside. Thus, it stands to reason that if 2015 is remembered to be The Year Without A February, then many of us may end up finding this to be one of the best years of our lives.