Sunday, December 13, 2015

A Warm December

This is how I expect December to look in Brooklyn. Click to enlarge. 
This is what I'm seeing instead. Flowers are blooming all over the place. A pink begonia bud opened on my (outdoor!) porch this morning and the pansies and marigolds out there look better than they did in September.  
The trees around Brooklyn City Hall burst into flower this week. 
Why so warm? According to the National Atmospheric and Oceanic Administration (NOAA), a positive  "Arctic Oscillation" has shifted jet streams northward, and has trapped cold air up there since November. Good! I vote to enjoy it while we can and to walk around coatless, marveling at all the December blossoms.
The birds seem to be having an easy time and I have not yet started feeding them. So far, no winter robins have been driven to my door, no cardinals are waiting at the windows in the morning. But remember that polar vortex? I bet it won't be long until we are complaining about the cold and the view from my window looks like this -- snow in the background, not flowers. 
The easy weather made me think of  this poem by Robert Service called Courage:

Today I opened wide my eyes,
And stared with wonder and surprise, 
To see beneath November skies
An apple blossom peer:
Upon a branch as bleak as night
It gleamed exultant on my sight, 
A fairy beacon burning bright
Of hope and cheer. 

'Alas!' said I, 'poor foolish thing,
Have you mistaken this for Spring?
Behold, the thrush has taken wing, 
And Winter's near.'
Serene it seemed to lift its head;
'The Winter's wrath I do not dread, 
Because I am,' it proudly said,
'A Pioneer.

'Some apple blossom must be first,
With beauty's urgency to burst 
Into a world for joy athirst,
And so I dare;
And I shall see what none shall see -- 
December skies gloom over me,
And mock them with my April glee,
And fearless fare. 

'And I shall hear what none shall hear --
The hardy robin piping clear,
The Storm King gallop dark and drear
Across the sky;
And I shall know what none shall know -- 
The silent kisses of the snow,
The Christmas candles' silver glow,
Before I die.

'Then from your frost-gemmed window pane
One morning you will look in vain,
My smile of delicate disdain
No more to see;
But though I pass before my time,
And perish in the grale and grime, 
Maybe you'll have a little rhyme
To spare for me.' 

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