A pair of daffodils bloomed in my yard on New Year’s Day. And in that humble factoid, as a teacher of mine used to say, there’s some good news and some other news. The good news: this is traditionally a sign from the plant world that Spring is on its way, and I am Spring’s biggest fan. The other news, and I say other because I’m not entirely sure how I feel about it, is that this may be a consequence of global warming, and pretty soon I’ll need a speedboat to get from Portero Island to Nob Island when I visit the water hazard formerly known as San Francisco. Which actually sounds kind of sexy, or at least sexier than driving cross-town at rush hour.
Indeed, a little more heat and a higher high-tide line would not necessarily be a bad thing around here, especially for a SoCal boy who’s never quite gotten used to these colder climes, even after 20 years north of the 37th parallel. Needing a wetsuit to swim in the ocean still strikes me as wrong, like putting rice in a burrito or not adding “the” to the front of a freeway number. But it’s just as wrong to see a crazy mixed-up Daffodil bloom ten days after the Solstice, which could be a sign that Spring is either early or nowhere in sight, el nino or la nina, and that I’m looking at either Hawaiian-shirt weather or another four months of thule fog with intermittant showers and random overnight freezes, or possibly a plague of locusts, or whatever this crazy mixed-up climate has to offer, no matter how much recycled grease I run through the Jetta or how many cloth-bag credits I get at the supermarket. Warming trends are fine, except for the storms and the droughts and the rivers running red.
But I’m still going to cast my lot with the heliotropes and hope that San Francisco is on its way to being the new Santa Barbara, not the new Vancouver. For moral back-up I will invoke the theory of on-balance Americanism, which posits that since (A) Canada is generally too cold, and (B) Mexico is generally too hot, the most perfect and on-balance American of all possible climates lies comfortably between these two extremes, and there’s nothing more patriotic than a 70-degree day with high ceilings and unlimited visibility. By this standard, the cold creeping up through my hardwoods right now is making me feel like a no-good, shivering commie.
The theory of on-balance Americanism was first proposed by students at Baylor University in the 1970s, a dodgy but arguably arguable hypothesis fueled by rafts of Texas ditch-weed and cases of Lone Star beer. As anyone who has visited Texas can confirm, it is a nation subject to wild and unpredictable swings of climate, and this was true even before the glaciers started melting. If you don’t like the weather, as the cowboys say, just stick around. But the Baylor savants argued that these extremes of hot and cold essentially cancelled each other out, an effect further ameliorated by the many pristine days of spring and fall, giving Texas an average, or on-balance climate second to none.
Um, except maybe California’s, dee-uwd. And no amount of Marshall Tucker music in a smoked-out Mustang is going to convince me otherwise, no matter which way the wind blows. Or doesn’t. Or turns into a Cat-5 hurricane with a tornado chaser.
Go, little flowers, go! I can almost see the beach from here.