When I took my dog out for a walk the other morning, I couldn’t believe how cold it was.
I lamented not pulling out the gloves before I left the house but I just don’t think of it being that cold.
After all, the upstate New York winters were definitely a wee bit chillier than those of Northern California.
But it’s all in what you get used to and after 30 years here in The Golden State, I have truly become acclimated to the weather extremes we have. Okay, 106 in summer is hot by any stretch of the imagination, but it’s something that we all just seem to accept as the norm on a few days in July or August. Back home, 106 would have made us all think the sun was coming much too close to earth. We did have humidity, though, which made it feel much hotter than the temperature that was showing on the thermometer.
When my sister first moved out here, I came to spend Christmas in California. She was living at the time with my aunt and uncle in Vallejo and I vividly remember going for a walk one morning and thinking how strange it was that Christmas was only a couple of days away and the sun was shining and I didn’t really need a coat.
Then the fog settled in and it was a different kind of winter chill. Back when we were kids, the Rudolph song didn’t make much sense in the part where it indicated “one foggy Christmas Eve” but after moving to California, I know what that means and why Rudolph’s red nose was so helpful in guiding the sleigh.
We would always be on high alert for a winter storm system around the holidays. One year, when my nephew was young, it was either two days before Christmas or Christmas Eve itself and I was still waiting for his gift to arrive. The delivery truck was supposed to be there ‘soon’ – I was waiting at the newspaper office where I worked in NY – and it seemed to take a lifetime, as the snow was falling and the roads were getting worse. But finally, it arrived and I was so grateful to the driver, who no doubt had his own holiday activities to get to.
The gift was a hit and it got there just in the nick of time.
Fall, however, has always been my favorite time of the year, and I was glad we got to travel back last year to enjoy the fall colors. My dad said this year, they hadn’t had enough freezes, the trees were not all that colorful before the leaves just sort of fell away. Subdued yellows and mostly browns, not much of the bright reds and oranges I associate with the best of the autumns growing up.
Of course, my dad wasn’t really complaining about not enough freezing weather – they will certainly make up for that come January and February.
But I do love remembering the sound of the leaves crunching under my feet as a kid and even now, I can enjoy that sound and wonder at the beautiful colors we have seen on the trees in our area this year.
My brother and I always used the falling leaves as a way to make some money, raking neighbors’ yards and bagging up the leaves. We probably didn’t make a whole lot of money but, then again, it didn’t take a lot of money in those days to buy yourself a couple of coveted items.
We also had a great little store downtown that seemed to have a little bit of everything so we could take our $5 there and come home with plenty of treasures.
So as we enter full tilt into the holiday season, may you find treasures in the simple things and make memories to last a lifetime.
Marg Jackson is editor of The Oakdale Leader, The Escalon Times and The Riverbank News. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 209-847-3021.