On this 31st of December, I opened up all the windows in the house to let the sweet Southern winter air waft through. It's 67 degrees, slightly overcast, and the lake is as pretty as can be.
After 10 years in the South (following 7 years in St. Louis and 3 in DC) I am still astonished at the weather that we have at this time of year. There's a peaceful, quiet quality to the days. On my early morning walks this week I've watched the robins and bluebirds buzzing about, have been hissed at by the geese that hang out by the side of the road leading out of Lakeridge, and, this morning, was able to get quite close to one of the great blue herons as it sat stone still by the dam before deciding that I was getting too close; then it took off across the lake with those long loping wingbeats that take my breath away.
The first time that Lynn invited me to come to Birmingham to see her (thus, my second visit, following the seminar at which we met), I came from Wisconsin, where I had been sitting bedside duty for my father. His surgery was a day or two after Christmas, and during the week that he was in intensive care, I sat in the lounge at the hospital all night long, reading, talking with Lynn on the telephone, and occasionally helping out with my dad (there was that one night when he almost died, his lungs filling up, and the on-duty nurse enlisted me as we pounded on his chest and pumped his lungs -- she was magnificent and I'll never forget her -- by morning he was sleeping peacefully -- I was drained, astounded, and utterly grateful for the experience).
I left for Birmingham on the 4th of January, driving to Chicago on the day after a blizzard, with the temperature somewhere around 20 below, and the drifts on the sides of the roads 10 and 15 feet high. I didn't think anything of it. The normal weather that I grew up with.
I landed in Birmingham, and was not thinking about weather. (This is where I should insert the story about the slo-mo scene in the airport, and the letter about the guest room, but that'll have to wait for another time...) The next day, she served me lunch out on her deck (slices of french bread covered with cheese & sausage & spices, toasted under the broiler). I had not done much travelling at that point, and the notion that one could, in 24 hours, go from the frigid snows of Wisconsin to the delicate, balmy winter days of Alabama, was a revelation.
It was Lynn, of course, just in her being, that could melt snow and bring on a beautiful warm day in the middle of January. It made complete sense to me. It still does.