January Thaw

January thaw in New England is an iffy deal. I’ve seen long periods when the temperature soared towards the seventies. But, I’ve also seen hurry up jobs where it got into the fifties for a single day and then dove into the frigid teens. So when the temperature recently “soared” into the forties, I was prepared to take it.
In my workshop/greenhouse with the door propped open for the first time since October, I thought back to the early seventies when I was an undergrad at Boston University.
That year we were having an exceptionally long and warm January thaw. I remember walking along Commonwealth Avenue, looking up and seeing swollen buds on the maple trees. As I neared Marsh Chapel, I was joined on my walk by Rocky. Rocky was a transfer from a deep southern school and a native Floridian. He had never been north, and this was his first year at B.U.
That day he was decked out in shorts and a bright Hawaiian shirt. Having lived in New England for over a decade, I tried to point out to Rocky that January thaw was a fickle event. Perhaps I was a bit too pauciloquent; I did not use enough descriptive words and terms to get my point across. January Thaw around here, I pointed out, was prone to sudden starts and abrupt finishes. Winter that year had not been beastly. But as most New Englanders know ( even adopted ones), winter loves to play catch up and gotcha. Comeuppance may not be a New England term in origin, but it fits well in practice.
Rocky looked at me like I was nuts when I suggested that winter was just on a break. He gave me a convincing kicked puppy look that made me feel sad.
The next day seemed as though it would continue the warm trend, but by mid-day, the barometer was falling, and January seemed to be shouting – “Did You, Miss Me Honey ??!!”
I saw Rocky the next day picking his way through the slush of our surprise storm. He cast me a look that seemed to ask the question – “How could you?” I sure hope he was back in the deep south before the Blizzard of ’78.

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