“What good is the warmth of summer, without the cold of winter to give it sweetness.”

Today is already in the high 40’s. It may reach 50 degrees. The sky is clear and the air is still, a pretty day all in all.

The washing machine repair guy is here. Henry announced the man’s arrival with his constant barking. I grabbed the leash and Henry took off upstairs. He was more concerned about the leash and the possibility of a ride than the interloper. Meanwhile, I am watching a disaster movie about a snowstorm which will freeze anyone outside.

On the coldest days, my mother said it was too cold to snow. I believed her until one day it was in the teens when the snow started. Another old wife’s tale was debunked.

One summer I traveled through South America. When I got below the equator, I was in winter. The Andes were ice capped. Snow was on the ground, but it was warmer than I expected. Even at Machu Picchu my sweatshirt was warm enough. When we got out of the mountains, a long sleeve was enough. I remember in Buenos Aires the rose garden was in its winter mode. I always think of that trip as the year I missed summer.

In Ghana, the hottest time of the year was during December and January. The heat dried everything. The ground was hard-packed, and the air was filled with so much dust that the sun was sometimes hidden in the haze. During the height of the afternoon, stores were closed, even the post office, and my students were in their dorms for a rest period. Every now and then I took a nap, following the local custom. At Christmas time, the harmattan was in full force. The dusty winds blew sand off the desert. Everything was brown. The fields were empty. The only saving graces were the humidity disappeared and the nights were chilly. I even used a wool blanket. I always think of those two years as the years I missed winter.

Now my seasons are in order. Winter comes in its turn so I’m getting ready for the cold and the snow. The heat is on, and I’ve brought out my hats and mittens. On the coldest days of winter, I miss the harmattan the most.

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12 Comments on ““What good is the warmth of summer, without the cold of winter to give it sweetness.””

  1. Bob Cohen Says:

    Hi Kat,

    The first time I traveled to Sao Paulo Brazil was in eatly July. I arrived on a Sunday morning after being awake 11 hours on a redeye flight from Dallas. I decided to take a short nap at three in the afternoon and forgot to ask for a wake up call. I awoke in pitch darkness and panicked that I had slept too many hours. When I checked my watch it was only five PM. 🙂 BTW the water drains do go the opposite way in the Southern Hemisphere. 🙂

    Winter here at the buckle of the sunbelt doesn’t really start until after New Years. We get occasional arctic fronts which plunge the temperature below freezing for a couple of days but it usually warms quickly.

    Today is partly cloudy with temperatures already in the mid 60s. The forecast for Turkey day is cool with rain as a Pacific cold front approaches.

    • katry Says:

      Hi Bob,
      The direction of the water in the Southern Hemisphere is a bone of contention. Some scientists say yes while others say no about the direction of the flow.

      São Paulo was one of my least favorite stops. I enjoyed Rio so much more. I traveled from Venezuela to Brazil. It took me eight weeks.

      November is the beginning of winter. We had some days cold enough to freeze water, but it it is too warm for skating on ponds and bogs. That is probably late December.

      It is a lovely day.

  2. Bob Cohen Says:

    Hi Kat,

    When I first traveled to the Southern Hemisphere it was in July and I was confused by the early setting of the sun. I also filled my bathroom sink with water and used a washcloth instead of the drain to hold the water. By slowly allowing the water to go down the drain I was able to observe that coriolis effect does exist. I got tired of watching CNN World and Bloomberg News which were the only English TV stations in Sao Paulo.

    Today is partly cloudy with the temperature already at 70 degrees. By Thursday we should have rain as another Pacific cold front approaches. Here in the buckle of the sunbelt we get occasional freezing temperatures when Arctic cold fronts come down from Canada. After New Years our temperatures will be cooler.

    • katry Says:

      Hi Bob,
      I know this is a repeat of your other comment as it had disappeared into cyber air.

      I remember trying to check the direction of the water when I was in Peru, but it didn’t happen.

  3. Bob Cohen Says:

    Unfortunately, the toilets now installed in the new hotels don’t swirl the water around the bowl when you flush as the old style ones did. Now the water rushes in rapidly which pushes the water straight down the drain. Therefore, I had to improvise using a washcloth to block the sink drain and then lift one corner to alow a small slow stream of water to go down the drain. I could easily see a vortex swirling clockwise as the water went down the drain. In the Northern Hemisphere a fluid flows counterclockwise around a low pressure area.

    • katry Says:

      I didn’t stay in a new hotel. The ones I chose were older and cheaper as my money had to last all 8 weeks, no ATM’s back then. I still remember the one in Puno where I didn’t see the water swirl in the opposite direction. I don’t know why.

  4. Rowen Says:

    This prompted a little reading up on the harmattan, of which I had only the most general idea. I hadn’t realized that it is not only the wind, but also a season associated with said wind, and one that lasts for some time.

    • katry Says:

      I remember my first introduction to the harmattan season. I lived way up country in Ghana, 18 miles from the border. The higher north, the greater the effects of the harmattan. It started in November and lasted into March when the humidity started to return. I think the cold at night in December was my favorite time. My former students told me they respected me right away as Ghanaians didn’t want to live in Bolga, the weather being one of the reasons, but here was this white woman living where Ghanaians wouldn’t, except for local tribes.

  5. Birgit Says:

    I was surprised to see how many harmattan songs are on YouTube.
    This one is so lovely and may fit to KTCC? Great voice and you may even sing along 🙂
    Harmattan Christmas – Kukuletta:

    • katry Says:

      I never even thought about hunting for harmattan songs on YouTube. I never heard any when I was there, and I think my students would have sung them as they sang all the time. I’ll have to ask them if they know any.

      The song is a perfect fit for Coffee. I wonder if she wrote the song.

      Thanks for finding this!

  6. Caryn Says:

    Hi Kat,
    The too cold to snow idea comes about because colder air is usually also drier air so there isn’t much moisture to make snowflakes. But sometimes there is and that’s probably the exception that proves the wive’s tale.

    You remind me that I need refrigerator repairman and dryer repairman to visit. Refrigerator no longer makes ice so I shut off the ice maker. Now the ice maker is making noises as if it were making ice but it isn’t and one very important noise isn’t happening. The noise of the water filling the ice maker. The dryer just makes noises that it shouldn’t. It still dries clothes. I hope they can wait until after Christmas.
    Rocky and Piki Dog would bark at the repairman, too, but then they would hang around and try to “help” him with his task.

    It was a lovely day yesterday and today looks pretty good, too.
    Enjoy the day.

    • katry Says:

      Hi Caryn,
      I figure my mother heard the too cold to snow rule from her mother and passed it along. My sisters and I say it to each other a few times every winter.

      The guy came and fixed my washing machine yesterday. I can now attack the mountain of dirty clothes in my bedroom. I have been walking around the pile since my washing machine bit the dust. My ice maker stopped working for a while. The ice never fell. All of a sudden it started working again and continues to work.

      Henry is a barker. He drives me crazy. He doesn’t bark only once. He just keeps barking. I can’t get him to stop.

      I have some outside chores to do so today is a great day to do them.

      Enjoy the nice day.

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