Yes, very weird. It’s 12°C out now and a high of 15°C (almost 60°F) for Christmas Eve. The ground isn’t frozen yet, the grass is still growing, all sorts of green leaves are vigorous underfoot. It might as well be South Carolina instead of Canada. Last year at this time, we had been deep in snow since November and visitors could not make to the farm for the holidays because of howling blizzards every day. Last year, the snowplow butted its way down the road. Two years ago, we were frozen to the gills by a major ice storm. Ice tinkled down from the trees for days. One could hike for miles on the vast ice crust, never once breaking through down to the snow. It was so cold, my trusty well froze up three times, a highly unusual happening.
They’re saying it’s El Niño, one of the strongest ever, is running the show this year. I have seen a couple of flakes of snow last month and a bit of quickly melting ice on the edge of the ditch. Right now it’s all rain and puddles. The squirrels are waddling around getting fatter because they can just keep on eating. The gardeners are worried about swelling buds, bizarrely fooled by the temperature. Lots more insects are going to survive to plague people and crops. Without snow pack, the water table will be down next summer, perhaps bringing drought and more failing wells. The ponds are crammed with ducks and geese who see no need to head for warmer climes. They are so well insulated that they can bob about in the frigid water and hardly feel a thing. So long as there is food and a place to swim, they’ll hang about enjoying themselves. They literally have to be frozen out before they will take to the sky. Our human snowbirds, however, have been in Florida for weeks. Only warm waters for them.
Despite the bad effects on nature, no one is complaining much. Municipalities are saving a bundle on snow removal, unlike last winter when their budgets were blown by February battling with mountains of snow. I can still bike miles on roads that have yet to taste sand or salt and it only takes a couple of chunks of wood to heat the house. So it’s a green, green holiday season that marches straight on into January before the temperature flirts a little with the freezing mark. Hard on the skiers but I don’t mind. I only hope El Niño goes back home without roasting us crispy come summertime.