Winter is coming… maybe?

Last night, we joined friends and shared hot chocolate and Oreos while we watched our local Santa parade. Good thing it wasn’t cold. Scratch that – good thing it wasn’t as cold as it usually is this time of year. It has been unseasonably warm for November, with temperatures as high as 14 degrees C. Considering that it isn’t unusual to have snow on Halloween in these parts, 14 degrees at the end of November is positively balmy weather.

A few days ago, I foolishly thought winter might have arrived at last. We woke up to a backyard that looked like this:

The snow was falling fast and thick, as you can see by the blurry flakes streaking their way to earth. By six o’clock in the morning, the garden had been transformed from a bunch of dead sticks (and a stubbornly blooming broccoli) in the middle of a grassy lawn to a collection of textural masterpieces that tickle the eye and inspired me to venture outside in bare feet and pyjamas to take photographs.

The kids were a smidge brighter than I. After rushing through their morning routine, they donned snowpants and boots and warm woolen mittens and hats so they could play and play and play.

They do know how to play.

The first order of business? Shovel enough of the driveway to get a head-start on the Annual Front-Lawn Fort (not to be confused with the Annual Back Yard Fort). There certainly was enough snow for it, even that early in the morning.

With all that snow, I started making plans for our annual pilgrimage to Santa’s Parade of Lights. Snowsuits. Warm mittens. Warmest boots. The littlest size of reuseable warming pads for putting inside the mittens. Folding chairs to sit on so we don’t freeze our bums on the cold sidewalk. The big wool blanket to wrap around our legs and drape over our fronts to keep the snow off and help keep us warm so we don’t freeze everything else in the cold wind. A book for each of the kids to read while waiting for the parade to start, and one Mama can read aloud if it is too cold for little hands to be bared to turn pages. Knitting, of course, to keep Mama busy during the parade — something simple enough to knit by feel in the fading light, and that won’t mind getting a little snowy and wet in the process. Snacks, and drinks — maybe a thermos full of hot chocolate. So many little details that make such a difference in how much we enjoy the experience of spending a couple of hours sitting mostly motionless in the cold and dark.

But, as all plans must, this plan took a few unexpected turns. First, a great turn: an invitation to join friends, and they would supply the hot chocolate (with a little something pepperminty added to the adult version). Second, we lost the snow.

Wait… what? It’s November 26 for crying out loud! It is supposed to be below freezing, with snow on the ground and flurries flying overhead. What’s with all the green grass and dry pavement? The weather was so warm that the kids didn’t bother with snowpants or boots, or mittens, and didn’t even hesitate to take off their hats and hold them out like Halloween bags, the lunatics! Of course it proved to be a good strategy as parade volunteers went by with candycanes for everyone and never, not once, missed filling up our gang’s hats.

Best of all, several of the floats attached snow machines to their roofs and so we had all the joy of watching the parade, getting enough candy to keep my kids on a sugar high for the next three weeks, and a perfect little flurry of (albeit artificial) snowflakes in the air. Even so, part of me keeps wondering: Where is winter?

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