November 20, 2022

Cooler Weather is Here: Where I Live That a Good Thing


No longer too hot for this!

Cooler weather is a fact of fall. Summer left us two months ago and winter is not far away. Yet, like so much in life, how each of us reacts to seasonal change has a lot to do with where we live, and probably where we grew up.

I spend the first thirty years of my life in the Northeast and Upper Midwest. Lots of cloudy skies, muggy, humid summers, frigid winters, snow as a chore-producing hassle, with icy sidewalks, slippery roads, and the constant need to shovel something....that was my universe.  I am reading that parts of the Buffalo area have  received 6 feet of snow this weekend. That is a lot of shoveling.  

Of course, I understood that places like Florida or Hawaii, or the Caribbean did not experience what I did. But, in that way of making sense of where you are, I just assumed that winters were meant to be cold and miserable, summers sweat-inducing, and the in-betweens of spring and fall not nearly long enough to make up for their evil twins.

Then, I moved to the Southwest. Are you kidding me? There are places where people don't shovel much of anything, plus blue skies and even the sun most days? Because of low humidity levels, it is possible to see 30 miles to the horizon? Winter is to be celebrated, not feared?

I immersed myself in a new understanding of how the weather could directly affect my mood. Three overcast days in a row suddenly seemed unnatural. Rain became a natural phenomenon worthy of soaking in the experience while sitting on the porch with a cup of coffee. 

Blistering summer days were not a biggie. I spend most time inside air-conditioned spaces. Unlike snow, sleet, or ice, there was no shoveling. I could structure any time outside for early or late and hibernate during the day. I found adaption to the new normal easy.

Hot days start sometime in April and last through most of October. The various equinoxes that mark seasonal shifts don't apply. For us, fall starts about now. January often includes stormy weather with temperatures in the 50s from time to time, so that must satisfy nature's need for winter. 

By late February it is not unusual for the thermometer to creep into the 80s every now and then. By March, we are skipping what you probably think of as spring to begin an early summer warmup.

After 37 years of this, I accept our off-kilter way of marking the seasons. But, I have developed a special love, an almost religious greeting of cooler weather. It is welcomed with open arms (and windows and doors). Here in late November, we are just leaving the 80s with the 70s and 60s as the norm. This lovely condition will remain until the atmosphere turns the heat back on in four or five months.

When I was younger, cooler weather and early sunsets felt like a kind of death. The scourge of a frozen winter was bearing down on me and there was to be no respite for many months. Now, cool weather is a rebirth of being able to reengage with nature, fresh air, and a reinvigorated attitude. 


How do you feel about autumn and the inevitability of winter just a month ahead? Do you welcome the changes, or are already making plans for what to do next spring? Is a frozen pond the perfect place for an afternoon of ice skating, or a reminder that it is way past time to pack away your shorts for this year?

My attitude has changed completely based on where we live. 

How about you, even with a ton of lake-effect snow covering the ground?

36 comments:

  1. Bob, my wife and I both grew up in the deep South--below the gnat line--and lived there most of our adult lives. Ten years ago after retiring we moved to the coast of New Hampshire to be nearer our adult son and last year moved an hour away just south of Boston to be in the same town with him and his wife. We really like the weather in New England. Neither of us ever liked the hot, humid southern weather. It always struck me that when all of the northerners moved south "for the weather" they then always stayed indoors! As did the "natives". I realize that weather is very regional but your description of northeastern winters is overly negative and drastic. Or maybe climate change has altered it since you lived here. In either case, after 10 years I can say that the snow events average about 5 or so really "plowable" ones each year (sometimes less) and those are generally from mid January through late March. (Of course we live in a complex so I don't have to do the shoveling but then that's good exercise, right?) When we moved north we noticed that the seasons here really do follow the actual calendar seasons. Summer temps arrived in late June, fall temps in September, etc. And we like the 4 distinct seasons with something to look forward to. It's really amazing how short each one lasts when you are experiencing them enjoyably. And the New England summers are wonderful after years in the deep South. I couldn't take it there anymore.

    And, as for "putting away the shorts", I put those away years ago--nobody over 35 looks good in shorts anyway. And we like winter clothes--much better for "looking good" :) Enjoy your "winter"!

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    1. Hi, Don. I well remember you and I exchanging blog comments about your move to be near you son. I am happy it has worked out so well.

      50 or 60 years ago when I lived there, Boston had some major storms each season (with snow days off from school) but nothing like the blizzards I experienced in Syracuse while going to college. That was serious snow.

      Later we moved to Cedar Rapids which had both large snowfalls and winter temps often well below zero. I have pictures of me digging out the mailbox and shoveling snow off the roof so it wouldn't collapse from the weight.

      I am glad I left all that behind. I will take the heat any day!

      Sandals and socks...there is a serious old guy no-no.

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  2. As I get older, the snow and cold bother me. The extreme heat does to, but then I feel I can cool off and get on with things. I can't see us permanently moving south of Minnesota but my husband can't take too much more drastic snow seasons, and I'm tired of driving in it. I'd take perpetual fall 50's-70° and Id be happy.

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    1. You sound like a snowbird in the making. I am there with you and your husband: driving through snow, black ice, chipping off the windshield...I could never go back to that.

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  3. I've spent my whole life living in the Northeast. That's where I could find an interesting career in my field. Most of my friends and family are here. And (a bit of East Coast snobbery) that's where I find like-minded people who value intelligence and culture rather than guns and god and grits. But now that I'm retired, I've found the perfect solution. I spend Jan. and Feb. in Florida and South Carolina and even occasionally Arizona ... great places to visit but not to live (because, as you point out, they're also brutally hot in the summer). But in the end, I say, to each his or her own.

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    1. The drought in the Southwest and most of California may have a bigger impact on living patterns than is currently the fact. The Colorado River and the large storage areas like Lake Mead are dangerously low. Likewise, the Mississippi River is too low for barge traffic in some spots.

      At some point no reliable water source will have as big an impact as flooding and too much water. We may all end up in Columbus.

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    2. Given that global warming has already pretty much eliminated snow for us in Bloomington Indiana, I predict that in the not too distant future, Columbus will be in the top 10 for best retirement locations. Bloomington is a small (50,000) population college town with lots of diversity about 100 miles directly west of Columbus. 100 degree temps are as rare now as below 0 ones. And when you are living in a RetCom (retirement community) that couple of times when we get about four inches of snow is almost delightful, as it is usually gone in a day or two. As you know, I traveled about 9,000 miles in my ยตRV across the South/Southwest, and the New England areas this year and finally decided that there is no place like home here in the Midwest. Oh, I forgot to mention that I have lived here almost all my life and I only remember one time that we had restriction on water usage.๐Ÿ™ƒ

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    3. Global warming is affecting everything, including the best spots to live. When Portland goes over 100 degrees each summer and Bloomington doesn't get much snow, the old rules do not apply.

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    4. According to Abraham Lustgarten in a 2020 article "Climate Change Will Force a New American Migration" (I did a blog post about it), as places in the south and southwest suffer more drought and more fires, and grow dangerously hot and uninhabitable, cities like Detroit, Milwaukee and, yes, Buffalo will see a renaissance as more retirees move there, looking for a safer and more temperate climate. I don't think it'll happen in our lifetimes, but it'll probably happen eventually.

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    5. It depends on how long you intend to live, Tom. ๐Ÿ˜Ž But I think this will happen much sooner than many people realize. Yes, change used to happen gradually, but like technology that almost does a complete change every four years, the effects of global warming will likely leap on us, not creep on us. I will check out your post on this subject.

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  4. I love having 4 "true" seasons ranging from -10 to 112. Well not so much the time spent above 90F but I've plenty of warm clothing for the low end of the thermometer ;-). Our winter average is 20. Snow falls and rarely are increments greater than 4 inches and rarely does it stay on the ground 2 weeks before we get a few warm days. Our mountain place gets an average 138" of annual snowfall. We pay for snow removal of the driveway. We only need to shovel the covered walkway and directly in front of the garage so snowguy can take it away. It's lovely to cocoon there in the winter when we're not up skiing the mountain just 20 minutes away from our front door!

    To each our own :-) Happy Sunday Bob...and your readers!

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    1. When we lived in Salt Lake City, many of those folks prayed for early and deep snow. Skiing was very important to their economy and lifestyle. We lived near the entrance to Little Cottonwood Canyon so we could gauge the snow depth at the top by the amount of traffic driving up!

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  5. I have lived within 20 miles of the California coastline my entire life, including a few years spent up in the Bay Area, but I have traveled extensively, including multi-month long visits to the east coast. All to say that I love traveling, but I love more living in an area with year round mild weather, particularly as an outdoor enthusiast.

    Rain is exciting here, so exciting that I think of it as a short-lived season. It is a joy to curl up with a book and look out at the rain for the one or two days it may go on. And then the incredible beauty of the ocean immediately after a storm, one of my favorite 'seasons' along the coast.

    The only seasonal adjustment we make is to not RV during the months we turn back the clocks, and the dark begins earlier (Nov-Mar). It's not fun to lose daylight at 5:00 PM when you are in a small travel trailer! On the other hand, our most brilliant sunrises and sunsets occur during this time, so I do love this time of year for that.

    I think of our seasons here as winter (when the whales migrate), spring (when we get rain, and the poppies and lupin explode and the hills turn green), gray (May & June), summer (when the area is alive with both visitors and fun events), and fire (Sep & Oct).

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    1. Fire season and Santa Anna winds... a specific time of year in southern California you can count on. And, to see whales on a regular basis...priceless.



      For Sam, who commented above, near the coast in Southern California will give you your temperature goals for most of the year. It is consistently temperate and lovely.

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  6. Hey Bob! Happy Autumn! And as you know our area is very similar to yours--although we have been celebrating cooler temps for almost a month now....not cold mind you...but cooler. I happen to LOVE this time of year. And as you mention, we do still have seasons but they are far more subtle than what is experienced in most northern locations. Things change and if you are in tune to them, they can also bring delight. But I do want to thank you for pointing out that although we have shorter days (not a fan!) we also get the gift of wonderful temps. And the trade-off for our excellent weather now is the heat of the summer...and NO shoveling. Happy Thanksgiving to you and Betty! ~Kathy

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    1. The desert area of Southern California and Arizona are only separated by a line on a map ant the Colorado River. Otherwise, we are twins, weatherwise.

      I don't like driving in the dark, but love the temperatures. Having doors and windows open is a special treat after months of breathing filtered air!

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  7. Greetings from the snowy Midwest. We live in the Great Lakes region -- you may have seen us on the news this weekend. LOL. We have had 27" of snow, and we're not even close to Buffalo, NY. It's a lot quickly, even for us. The upside is how bright it gets outside when everything is white, and that much snow is actually usable for skiing, snowshoeing, etc.

    Having grown up here, I like the four seasons, but I do see the advantage of your region from about Jan-March. Since my baby duck print is four seasons, I personally would rather layer my clothes than live with intense heat. Luckily, my DH sees it the same way. To each their own, I guess.

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    1. I grew up with four seasons and had no problems since that was all I was used to. Getting dark at 4:30 in the winter was never fun, but I do miss seeing the leaves change.

      We all adapt or move to a place that has more positive checkmarks than negative ones.

      Happy shoveling or sledding down a hill!

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    2. No place is perfect. No matter where you live there will be inevitable upsides, downsides, and tradeoffs. Right now it is 22 degrees where my wife and I live in Michigan, with 4inches of snow. What bothers us the most about winters here are consecutive weeks of cloudy days--a significant downside for us. We live in one of cloudiest areas in the United States because our area of Michigan is surrounded by the Great Lakes, causing lots of cloud cover.

      Eight years ago we lost power due to a severe ice storm. Consequently, we had to go to a motel 35 miles away just to keep warm. That experience caused us to strongly consider becoming snowbirds. Our son told us that our whole perspective on winter would change once we spent a big chunk of the winter in Florida.

      Due to a cancellation, we were fortunate to find a one bedroom rental in a beach town in Southern Florida. Just like our son predicted, instead of dreading winter, we now look forward to it. During the months we are there, from January until March, the average temperature is 76 degrees and virtually everyday is sunny with very low rainfall, the warmest area in the continental United States during that time. That's paradise for us. We rent the same place each year and can hardly wait to pay the deposit for the next year's rental.

      Instead of walking indoors at a mall, we walk on the beach across the street. We play pickleball outdoors instead of indoors at home. We average thousands of more steps per day than in Michigan due to the comfort of exercising in mile weather. We also feel much more optimistic due to the regular sunshine. We enjoy eating breakfast on the balcony while watching scuba divers enter the ocean.

      Our location is not cheap. Nevertheless, we are determined to enjoy our money while we are in the "fourth quarter" of our lives. Choosing to become snowbirds is probably the best decision we made during 20 years of retirement, definitely improving our quality of life. We look forward to the inevitability of winter just a month ahead.

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    3. You have summed quite strongly the advantages of being a snowbird for part of the year. You get just enough winter before growing tired of it and escaping south.

      Betty and I are in the reverse snowbird mode. We take " heat breaks" during the summer by traveling to cooler places for occasionak respites from the 100+ degree heat. That is working well for us.

      BTW, I watched some of the Notre Dame football game yesterday. Part of it was played in quite a storm!

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  8. Greetings from NE Alberta where there are definitely 4 seasons. Some would say the fifth is road repair season! I haven't lived here all my life yet, but do appreciate the seasons, each with its advantages/disadvantages. We go hard spring, summer & fall with the seasonal demands. Snow means slow. That's when the books get read, the movies get watched, the hobbies come out, slow cooking happens. We can expect ~ 2 wks of -30-40C, but typically -10-20C, great winter days. The cold can be oppressive & downright dangerous but one prepares for it. I have many snowbirding friends. I can honestly say I don't mind winter when everything is working. The worst is the short daylight hours. We're still a month away from the darkest days. I'm quite pagan in my holiday celebrations & welcome the coming of the light with Christmas.

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    1. "Snow means slow" is a great phrase. As long as the heat stays on and you have food in the pantry, no problem.

      I didn't realize that -40C is also -40 F. In Iowa we had occasional -30 nights with wind chills of -60, which can kill if a car breaks down, for example. A steady diet of 10 to 20 degrees below zero must put quite a strain on a house and body. Do dogs learn to use a litter box at those temperatures?

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  9. We live in southern Ontario in Canada and for me I do like the seasons, I am a big fan of fall, my British wife is more of a spring person, and I really like the sunny days of summer, but I knew that when we retired I wanted to be somewhere without the snow and long hours of darkness each winter. We ended up in Mexico as our spot for winter.

    Why Mexico? I guess partly because it's a little bit exotic with a different language and culture, but also because it is a large and varied country (about 60% the size of the 48 contiguous U.S. states). We aren't beach people and my wife in particular doesn't like being hot, so we ended up in the mountains of central Mexico in a village at 5000 feet of elevation where the weather is quite temperate year-round even though we are south of the Tropic of Cancer. It suits both of us and we have no need for either AC or heating there. It's also a plus that we are only a 1-hour time difference from back home so it's easy to keep in regular touch with our children and grandchildren via video chat.

    I write this now from our house in Mexico where we've been since the end of October and we will return to Canada for a few weeks to spend Christmas and New Year with our family. A few days after New Year we'll be flying back south to our home away from home until nearly the end of April when spring is set to burst upon us back north. For us it's the best of both worlds and feel blessed that we are able to live this life in our retirement.

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    1. 5,000 feet is about the same as Prescott, a smallish city north of us that we enjoy visiting in the summer. But, they get snow and cold temperatures, definitely requiring heat in the winter.

      Your Mexican location must have a diffrrent weather pattern even though the elevation is the same.

      I figured you were in Mexico by now. I know how much you love it as a way to escape Ontario winters.

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    2. Where we are, in sort of mid-Mexico, is about 1,300 miles further south than Prescott AZ, which is about the distance from Toronto Canada to Orlando Florida. One thing I have learned, especially since moving to Mexico for part of the year, is that the flat maps we are used to seeing are quite distorted. Mexico looks like this little string bean hanging off the bottom of the USA but it's actually a very large country (almost 4 times the size of France). Either way there's no snow and in towns around here you need at least another 2,000 feet of elevation to have even an occasional light frost during the winter months.

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    3. Being that much closer to the equator obviously is the determining factor. Enjoy!

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  10. We live in the mountains of the northeast and are a house divided. Alan and I wake up, see snow on the ground, and say, "Oh, crap!" Our young adult daughter who lives with us wakes up, sees snow on the ground and says, "Oh, yay!" It happened yesterday on her day off, and she promptly headed to the local mountain to snowboard.

    While I do enjoy the four seasons, I'm not a fan of really cold weather. Now that we've sold our two rental properties, we may consider escaping to a more comfortable climate for at least a brief respite from the cold. To that end, our son offered to plow out his sister if necessary during our absence. After all, she'll need to get to the mountain.

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    1. Overall, if you love where you live stay put except for a brief escape to a more moderate climate....sounds like a very logical plan.

      I am with you and Alan regarding snow. "Oh, crap" says it all.

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  11. We live in OKC and have some seasonal changes. I do enjoy the cooler weather in the Fall and Winter. To us, the cooler weather adds to the whole holiday feeling for Thanksgiving and Christmas. I enjoy a good snowstorm or two during the winter which in OKC would be a 6-8 inch snow! I don't need too much winter before I start longing for the warmup in the spring and summer. I could not do the long winters of the north!

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    1. When I lived in the colder parts of the country , I used to dread fall because it meant winter, darkness, and cold was not far behind. I don't mind a snowstorm if we have the family at a holiday rental in a place like Flagstaff. Otherwise, I'll pass.

      Spring brought the opposite reaction: rebirth and a bright light at the end of the tunnel.

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  12. In Oregon, we are getting hotter "hot days" and colder "cold days." Our famous rainy season is still with us, but comes later and leaves early. We had summer until the middle of October this year. Many parts of the state are shockingly in long term drought. I find that (like others) age has decreased my tolerance for cold. Our heat is sometimes a challenge and tolerable, but the forest fires and smoke that have come with it force us inside for increasing lengths of time. The climate is changing. I worry about the years ahead for all of us, but especially for my friends and others in the southwestern USA. My geology colleagues at my former employer had very dire predictions about the not too distant future... using words like "uninhabitable." I hope they are wrong.

    Rick in Oregon

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    1. All of us are going to have to make major changes, regardless of where we live. The water issues in my part of the country do not have an obvious answer, short of a decade of wet weather.

      While I expect to end my days here, the odds of my grandkids living out their lives in the desert southwest are remote.

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  13. when I lived in South Carolina some years ago , I love autumn as the best season in there followed by spring. I remember specially the blue sky and the orange and red color of the trees, my soul definetely was happy. Now that I came back my country in South America the weather is absolutly crazy. Storms everywhere during the whole years make our situation very difficult . The weather change is a reality !!!

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    1. Climate change is our current situation and our future. As too many countries continue to burn coal and have decided their economy is more important than the earth's health and future, we will adapt or die. Humans are fouling our own nest just as quickly as an untrained puppy.

      Frankly, I don't know what it will take for us to make it better. There have already been so many serious consequences and change is baked into our future even if we stopped polluting today.

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  14. We've got the best of both worlds for us - six months in the Seattle area, six months in Tucson. I love the long summer days in Washington as much as the shorter, sunny days in Arizona. Last month I went for a walk in The Hague, Netherlands, where we shuffled through autumn leaves in a public park. I do miss the autumns, which I enjoyed as a kid living on the east coast. But for the rest of the year, we're very lucky.

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    1. Yes, you have a very nice setup. Of course, if climate change effects Seattle, you can skip the trip to Tucson since the Pacific Northwest may become much warmer in the winter!

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