As I sit here in Denver, looking out the window of my sister's house at a snow-covered landscape, with un-plowed streets and neighbors digging out their walk, I'm looking forward to flying back home to California this afternoon, where the temperatures are forecast to be in the 70's (20's C) all week!
Whenever I travel and meet people from other parts of the world, they often have the idea that the weather in Southern California is always warm and sunny. They assume that the climate is tropical. The truth is that winter temperatures are usually between 40-65 degrees (highs around 16 C are typical). Not cold, by any stretch of the imagination, but not beach weather either. Nights can be downright chilly, dropping below freezing on occasion.
Every now and then, however, we get a week in the middle of winter where it really is beach weather. To me, these are the best days of the year. Even better than a warm day in summer. On these warm winter days, the sky is bright blue, the winds light, the crowds gone, and best of all, when you go to the beach on a warm winter day it just feels like you're getting away with something. Like you're playing hooky from school, or skipping out on work.
This year it seems like it has been particularly warm and dry all over the northern hemisphere. My friends in Estonia are enjoying temps in the high 30's (+4 C), as opposed to the usual double digits below zero. Likewise in Budapest it has been unseasonably warm. Here in Denver temps are expected to be in the 50's this week, as they are at Mammoth Mountain in the Sierra Nevada, where I worked as a snowboard instructor for six years. In fact, after last years record snow amounts, this year Mammoth is having an epic bad-start to the season, with almost no natural snow on the ground at all.
So it seems everyone is having a warmer than average winter this year. Perhaps we can put it down to global warming. If so, this is a troubling prospect indeed, but for the next seven days I'll do my best to enjoy it. A notebook, a pen, a towel, a surfboard and me, sitting on the beach and cheating Old Man Winter.