Saturday was balmy, followed by a night of high winds that knocked the leaves off the native trees. Sunday the switch was thrown, and suddenly, it was winter. Although there actually was an autumn in there — and a long one despite drought conditions turns the leaves early — all the seasons feel kind of mixed up. On the other hand, this is kind of how Kansas often is.
I remember when I first moved to the Midwest in January of 1979. Winter was a bit more fierce than what I was used to in New Jersey, but come spring, I was often surprised, and not in a good way. Leaving the house on a warm morning with nary a sweater, I would walk the mile or so to campus (University of Missouri at Columbia), figuring it would simply get warmer. Coming home, shivering and trying to run through sleet to keep warm while trying not to fall on the new ice, I often felt like I landed in an alternate universe. 50 degree drops in a few hours are a specialty here, and it took me a long time to catch on enough to follow weather reports, carry fleece, and walk swiftly.
Now it’s another bright, cold day, but given that the weather — kind of like my moods when I first moved to the Midwest — can turn in an instant, making “average temperatures” more a point on the thermometer passed quickly as the mercury runs up or down, I know it won’t be cold for long. The one exception to this snap-your-fingers-kind-of-shifting is high summer, but even then, a storm can jolt us out of I-can’t-stand-it-anymore heat to I-love-it-here.
Kansas might seem — from a distance — to be a place where nothing much happens, but any of us who live here know that on the ground, this can be a temperamental-climated, wildly-changing, varigated-parade-of-weather kind of place. So here’s to whatever happens next, and the importance of traveling with both sun screen and a parka.