Hello fellow readers, It’s coming up on nine years of our weekly chats. Hard to imagine! One of the annual topics is what’s in store for winter in the garden of life. From weather folklore to the go-to almanacs and weather authorities, none seem to agree this year, much like other predictions in 2020. But there’s comfort in the lessons of Frosty the Snowman and Mr. Frosty built by amazing kids.
It’s fun to ponder the long-term weather folklore predictions such as the woolly bear caterpillar– the narrower the band, the harsher the winter. But there’s no proof Mr. Fuzzy’s wardrobe is accurate. This year, I only came across a few furry fellows sporting varying widths of brown.
The Old Farmer’s Almanac versus Farmer’s Almanac
The go-to Old Farmer’s Almanac says that despite “low levels of solar activity” that historically translate to cooler temperatures, they believe that “winter will not be extremely cold because of rising temperature trends.” Their 2020-21 Winter Map declares Sheets of Sleet in intimidating capital lettering over NJ and PA. They claim, “Wet to be the wintertime constant.” Wet that translates to messy sleet rather than snow does not make for happy skiers and Frosty enthusiasts; that would be me.
Then there’s the Farmers Almanac, not to be confused with the Old Farmer’s Almanac though both claim about an 80-85 percent accuracy. Their headline reads: “Cold and snowy in the north—drought in the west. And everything crazy in between! Which side are you on?” Can even weather be taking sides? Their 2020-21 Winter Outlook Map for our area reads “Seasonably Cold Wet and White.” Yay! Then the subtitle– “Winter of the Great Divide.” Oh my!
Is long-range forecasting accurate?
I asked my Mr. Doppler, dear Curt, who has a handful of premium weather apps. Each morning over breakfast, he listens to the Eastern PA Weather Authority (EPAWA), our local weather guru, on YouTube. The EPAWA no longer offers long-range winter weather predictions, concluding weather forecasting is not accurate more than ten days in advance. Their revelation is consistent with each year’s forecast for the coming winter that starts with an explanation of why the previous years’ winter did not unfold as predicted—justifying how anomalies played out with all sorts of technical weather jargon too hard to understand.
Predictions on all fronts are a puzzle this year, with troubling divisiveness all around us. But we can lift each other with love and kindness to melt away fear and disharmony, bringing joy and peace back again.
Speaking of snow, may I share a walk in the woods last week to support a bereavement camp for kids who lost a parent, guardian, or sibling too early in life. I’ve been a volunteer for Comfort Zone Camp since my soulful twin brother Bill passed away. No doubt, the pandemic’s isolation, lost lives, and stress over livelihoods adds to the uncertainty and feelings of loss for many of us these days.
The 5K Grief Relief was a virtual event this year. Still, I gathered a few friends at Blue Mountain Lakes, part of the Delaware Water Gap National Recreational Area NJ/PA, for an in-person 5-K, following Covid protocols, of course. It was cold that day, and remnants from the light dusting of snow remained in pockets next to Hemlock Pond, where elevations are higher. I grabbed some snow and rubbed it on my cheeks, hoping that Frosty will be coming to town this year.
The Lessons of Frosty the Snowman
We wear name badges while at camp. Last year, during a snowy NJ March camp, a group of kids built snowmen, and one was given a name tag – Mark Frosty, charmingly misspelling his name.
“Frosty the snowman is a fairy tale, they say. He was made of snow, but the children know how he came to life one day.”
Then there was the sadness when the sun began to warm. Frosty shouted in glee, “Let’s run, and we’ll have some fun now before I melt away.”
When the time came, “He waved goodbye, saying, Don’t you cry, I’ll be back again someday.”
Frosty’s lesson is to live in the joy of now while taking comfort in knowing that God is with us always, through each season, seeing us through every storm. And while we can’t predict long-term forecasts in the garden of life, each of us can propagate peace, love, and kindness. It’s not a fairytale. It starts at home and in our communities. Garden Dilemmas? AskMaryStone@gmail.com (and now on your favorite Podcast App.)
Comfort Zone Camp (CZC) was founded by Lynne Hughes 21 years ago. She lost her parents as a young girl, which lead to her mission to help kids with the isolation of loss and grief. I feel blessed to witness the magic of “the bubble” as a volunteer for the last six years. Over 21,000 kids have attended Comfort Zone Camp at no cost to their families, thanks to generous support from individual and corporate donors. Their office is in Richmond, Virginia, but camps occur nationwide, helping kids and young adults Grieve, Heal, and Grow. https://comfortzonecamp.org/
This column is featured in the Garden Dilemmas Podcast: