With the end of 2015 and beginning of 2016, my area has seen much change. The new year has brought with it colder temperatures, cloudier skies, and much wind.
Changes in Temperature
This past week, the average high temperature for the day was around 36°F, a sharp drop from the balmy 55° days we had been experiencing. This change alone has brought a few concerns, including:
- How plants that had been surviving well in the warmer weather will adapt. The temperatures had been so warm that the daffodils and hyacinth bulbs started putting up shoots from the ground. Some of the lilac bushes and a few maple trees also started to bud in the warmer air. Several local farmers even reported berry bushes budding. While it is nice to see such life amid the winter landscape, it does make one wonder how the sudden cold snap will affect the plants and what will happen when spring does arrive two months from now.
- How the animals in the area will survive. Without much cold or even any significant snow, the deer, turkey, squirrels, and other wildlife have not had to forage as much for food or go for extended periods without food. Though nature will most likely help them to adapt, I do wonder if all the animals will survive and be able to stay healthy.
- How people who have been enjoying the warmer days will respond to the suddenly cold air. Of particular concern are younger children and the elderly who typically need some time to adapt to change. Personally, I am having a hard time keeping warm despite staying active and layering clothes. Once again, after a few weeks, we will most likely by fine, but the concern still exists.
- How dogs who have had to shed their winter coats due to the warm weather will fare. This includes my dogs, who have been shedding up a storm for weeks with the balmy air. Though they most likely have plenty of fur left on their bodies to protect them, I do worry when we take our walks that they are comfortable.
Changes in the Sky
The morning sunrise has been hidden by clouds for the past few days. This starts the day off on a bit of a sad note for people like me who like to see the light of the sun. However, the gray skies have had some neat cloud patterns to observe, so there is a positive side if one is willing to look for it.
The midday skies have been a mix of clouds and sun, with the wind moving the clouds quickly through the area. The sun has provided a much welcome sense of warmth and brightness to the minds, bodies, and souls of those observing.
Though the sunsets have not been as vibrant or long-lasting this past week, they have put on a show amidst the clouds. Last night’s sunset was the clearest of the week and most colorful since Christmas. As someone who loves to watch the sky and who seeks meaning in the colors, I have found reassurance and hope for good things in the year ahead.
Wind, Wind Everywhere
The increase in the velocity and force of the wind has been a bit of a problem in my area, knocking out power, causing damage to trees and structures, and making travel a bit difficult. The sharp drop in the air temperature has meant more frequent running of the furnaces, boilers, and wood stoves to keep homes and businesses warm or comfortable for the inhabitants.
Some Constants Despite the Changes
Despite all the above, I have continued to run, bike, and walk on what is a normal schedule for me. Some runs and rides were not the most pleasant, however, all offered perspective, wisdom, and good writing fodder for future use.
The statistical side of me likes to keep track of all my activities, and when adding up all the numbers at the end of 2015, I found the following interesting:
- I had ridden my bicycle a total of 309 days. My goal for the year was to try to do 300 days, though I was not sure it would be possible living in Southwestern Pennsylvania. Each ride is typically four miles, though some rides had to be cut short due to time constraints or weather conditions. Regardless, 309 days times about four miles a day is a lot of miles, a good number of sights seen (including a great many inspiring and beautiful sunrises and sunsets), and a great workout for body. No complaints here.
- On average, I run five days a week and a little over 3 miles per run, so that is also a lot of miles through the year. Though my heart and mind appreciate all these miles, I am certain my running shoes do not as they seem to wear out faster each year. I have been running since I was 14 years old, and have found that speed is no longer the name of the game, but endurance and wisdom gained through the experience matter most.
- Poetry continues to be my companion in thought and activities. Throughout 2015, I wrote 108 poems, which is about normal for me. I have been keeping track of my writing since 1990, and when I plot out the numbers, I can see ups and downs that typically correlate with life issues and events. Since 1990, I have written 2703 poems, which is a fair amount of writing given all my other activities.
Wisdom and Perspective Through Change
Though the numbers don’t tell the whole story, they do offer good insight and can help figure out problem areas or things of which to be aware in the future. This goes for many different statistics, not just my little record keeping exercises.
So if you are looking for something different in 2016, you may want start with a look at some statistics, either in your own life or in the world around you. Then look at nature and its changes to see if you can find any correlations. If anything, you will become enlightened by the information and you may also become more aware of your own needs, goals, and dreams.
Life is a journey. Each step along the way offers much potential and opportunity for us. How we view it is what helps or hinders our progress. As one of my all-time favorite songs says, “Walk toward the light until you find the sun and you’ll be better off in the long run. Walk on…”