They had been saying it was going to get real cold for about the last three or four days. I had just read an article which said we had gone through the third-warmest October on record. That, plus we had a record-number of days over 90 degrees – 15 of them. If that wasn’t enough, we even had a day over 100, virtually unheard of for so late in the year. Despite all of this, the weather gurus said it was going to be at least 25 degrees cooler tomorrow. Real cold, they said. According to the forecast we’d struggle to even get into the 70’s. And the overnight low would be down in the 40’s for the first time since early April, almost seven months ago. I was having a real hard time believing this as I walked home from the library that afternoon and the radio announced it was still a comfortable, and balmy, 94 degrees outside.
I’m born and raised in Tucson, and I don’t do well in the cold. At all. If it’s like 110F, maybe even 115, I’m fine with that. We have a saying here about how Tucson only has two seasons, summer and mid-summer. Anywhere down around 50 I just freeze up. I slow way down, both in my body and in my mind. And I don’t like wearing a lot of clothes, especially things like heavy winter coats, gloves, and knit caps. All things you have to wear in the winter. I work best wearing only shorts and a t-shirt, which I did very well all summer, thank you very much! I wasn’t looking forward at all to the upcoming Great Cold Spell of 2014.
So being prudent, I dug out my winter coat and a few sweaters. Reluctantly I pulled out my long pants and long-sleeved shirts, which I hadn’t even thought about for months. I even retrieved a pair of long thermal underwear. And yes, I located my gloves and the only knit cap I own. If you think I was going to suffer through that sub-freezing 70 degree weather without being properly prepared you’d be very wrong about that!
The next morning I got up and cautiously poked my head outside expecting the worst. And they were right! It was cold! Not only that, it was cloudy and gray. The exact kind of dreary winter day I hate. My original plan was to walk downtown to the library and do some research, but that was obviously out. Reluctantly I pulled on my long-johns and a pair of long pants, and put on a long-sleeved shirt. I even wore an undershirt, something I never, ever do unless I’m getting all dressed up for church or a funeral or some deal like that. As I pulled on my socks I wondered why I had never bought those electric kind they have which keep your feet all toasty and warm. I threw on a sweater and my heavy winter coat and donned my knit cap and my gloves. I was ready to brave the elements.
Against my better, judgment I set out for the bus stop. It’s actually fairly close and I figured I probably wouldn’t freeze to death before I got there and the bus came along. And honestly it really wasn’t all that cold. I’d call it “brisk” – probably in the low 50’s somewhere. The real problem was that it was windy, which meant the wind chill factor came into play. I hate when that happens! Somehow I managed to survive the walk in the dangerously cold weather, and thankfully the bus came along pretty quickly. But here’s the problem. They still had the air conditioning in the bus turned on. Apparently they hadn’t flipped the switch to configure the bus over to the winter heating mode yet. It was actually colder on the bus than it was outside! I almost wished I had walked after all. It would have been a lot more pleasant!
I went about my day and all-in-all I survived the frigid weather OK I guess. I probably wasn’t outdoors more than about a total of maybe a half-hour, if that. The bus on my return trip home was properly heated, and the sun eventually came out and it was warming up nicely. I actually felt a little silly all dressed up like I was treading through snowdrifts six feet deep on an icy lake deep in a remote forest or something like that. But at times like this I’d rather be safe than sorry, and I was glad I was adequately prepared.
And the next day? Not a problem at all. I was back to my shorts and a T-shirt. That’s the funny thing about the weather here in Tucson during the fall. We’ll have a day or two when it’s a little cool, and then we’re right back into the beautiful weather the desert southwest is so well known for. I know we’ll eventually get into the real winter, but that only lasts for about two or three weeks. I’ll suffer through it, I guess, all bundled up like some abominable snowman in my four layers of warm clothing. Plus my knit cap and gloves. Then, along about mid-January we’ll be right back into summer again. I can’t wait!