It’s the first week of December in New Orleans, and for the next five days the median high temperature will be an almost unbelievable 70 degrees. Forehead meet palm. This, while the city has already experienced a chilly (for these parts) 35-degree Thanksgiving eve last week. Citizens of the Crescent City presently trim their homes with holiday cheer often adorning themselves in flip flops and shorts, all the while knowing the reality of the temperature outdoors remains a relative in-constant. For let me ask you, as you read this, is perhaps your AC running? If even the whisper of a yes or even a possibly maybe passed synaptically just now, my gut says you fully understand the season upon us is less known as ‘winter’ so much as ‘the layering time.’
Personally I rolled out of the house the other morning four layers in, woolly muffler over naked neck and all. I’ve even started wearing socks again! And when you bundle up at night under cover over blanket over throw after having experienced the 70s that morning only to come home to a dreaded if not drastic 40-degree dip it’s a wonder we all take these extremes as casually as we do. Conversely, I am a big fan of the phrase by way of the same self-titled children’s book, “Could be worse.” Because it could. And I understand that, but it still doesn’t mean winter and I are friends. Although there is this one guy named Winter I used to wait on a lifetime ago, he’s on a mission to visit every Starbucks the world over, and while I wouldn’t say we’re exactly friends either, his visits were always much more welcome.
And while we’re on the topic of work and this schizoid balmy season, the layering is absolutely inescapable, isn’t it? Maybe worse though might be the heat sentences our summers may bring when a sweater or cover must be dutifully brought in to counteract the over air conditioned space one may toil within. It can be soupy 98 degrees out, and you’re rocking grandma’s cardigan indoors because 68 degrees keeps your employable environs chilled just so. I’m thinking of hospitals, libraries, and most all public facilities, with an asterisk denoting our much beloved university buildings. Such extreme shifts in temps can’t be good on the body, can it?
Having done a winter in Boston over a decade ago I am in no way endorsing an all-or-nothing approach to our present winter. I do not miss the snow, slush, or wintry mix, or even remembering that the words ‘wintry’ and ‘mix’ commonly go together to describe a type of precipitation that apparently defies wordsmith weather people and their ability to give something a proper title like hail, sleet, or sludge. Instead, wintry mix is the gumbo of cold downpours. A little of this, a little of that, and voila you can taste snowflakes on your tongue and maybe a light pelting too. No thanks. A wintry mix in my mind will always want to be a hearty muesli style cereal that might warm my weary bones and nothing more, and maybe there’s a silhouette of a walking moose or something on the box for good measure.
As I dart around our fair city these next few days, we’ll see if this forecast shakes out as planned, and I may very well bust out the sandals once again, though I think the sunscreen will stay on the bathroom shelf. As warm as we may see it, daylight is still shorter and often overcast, and I’m not a fan of that either; I like and miss my long, sunshiny days. Evenings outdoors with a long slow sunset and the cicadas serenading the coming night, I can almost smell the night-blooming jasmine. I’ll reel in the dreamy druthers for now, knowing full well we have weeks and months to go before we’re back there. In the meantime, keep your jackets at the ready, and who knows? You might even upgrade to routine coat-use status if those cold and dirty 30s decide to stick around for more than a day or two. It could happen!
Jean-Paul Villere is the owner of Villere Realty and Du Mois Gallery on Freret Street and a married father of four girls. In addition to his Wednesday column at UptownMessenger.com, he also shares his family’s adventures sometimes via pedicab or bicycle on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.