Since I'm eligible for social security benefits, I've got retired-time now to solve the world's problems. After pondering where to start over several Grande Christmas Blend coffees at Starbucks, here's my choice:
Shortening winter to one month.
I picked this problem rather than nuclear disarmament, famine, environmental degradation, or Middle East peace for a couple of reasons.
One, winter is my least favorite season, so I'm personally motivated to shorten it as much as possible. Two, with sufficient caffeine in my system to stimulate my steadily aging brain, it didn't take me long to figure out a way to make winter last one month.
Before revealing this solution to my fellow winter-haters, a suggestion: you will find what I have to say more convincing if you're in the right frame of mind.
By which I mean, sufficiently inebriated and/or stoned to recognize the brilliance of my logic -- which may seem illogical to those who refuse to free their minds from the confines of a calendarcentric way of looking upon reality.
If you've had that second (or better yet, third) glass of wine or joint of marijuana, read on...
Here in the Oregon'ish reaches of the northern hemisphere, I've always considered the seasons to be composed of whole months, with winter running from December to February. Pleasingly, this also is how Wikipedia says meteorologists view seasonality:
Meteorological seasons are reckoned by temperature, with summer being the hottest quarter of the year and winter the coldest quarter of the year. Using this reckoning, the Roman calendar began the year and the spring season on the first of March, with each season occupying three months.
In 1780 the Societas Meteorologica Palatina, an early international organization for meteorology, defined seasons as groupings of three whole months. Ever since, professional meteorologists all over the world have used this definition. So, in meteorology for the Northern hemisphere: spring begins on 1 March, summer on 1 June, autumn on 1 September, and winter on 1 December.
So winter is bracketed by autumn's September, October, November and spring's March, April, May.
OK, let's work with that, squeezing winter from both sides until a couple of months drop off. Psychologically -- which is all that counts, since the sun and tilt of the Earth are going to keep on doing their thing. (This is why you need to be in that special frame of mind.)
Having come to the last days of November, let's hearken back to the early part of the month. It was warmer and nicer, right? After all, November is part of fall, a.k.a. autumn.
Thanksgiving isn't a winter holiday. Neither is Halloween. When a few weeks are added on to the end of fall, that's no big deal. Just a rounding error. The early part of December is a continuation of autumn, really.
And the last part of December... that's a whirlwind of shopping, parties, decorating, standing in line at the post office, and realizing on December 23 you forgot to get a gift which means forking out more for overnight delivery than the damn thing costs.
With all that craziness going on, there's no way to focus on the seasons. Thus the only part of December that might fall into what we used to call "winter" is the first few weeks, and we've decided that this actually is autumn.
Ergo: December isn't a winter month. Let's move on.
To February, the gateway to spring since it nuzzles up to March. In March daylight savings time returns, making late afternoons much sunnier. Bulbs pop up, bringing color to gardens. Like they say, "March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb."
But hey, who are they to make such a hard and fast statement? Lions have been known to lay down with lambs. (I found this photo on the Internet, so it must be real.)
And then extend that nice spring weather back a few weeks. After all, global warming is happening. Spring is coming earlier.
The season can now be expected to arrive a week and a half earlier than it did in the mid 1970s, the wide-ranging study of plant and animal behaviour found.
Daffodils now commonly bloom in January and swallows can arrive in February rather than March.
Yes! Science rules! We must obey!
February now is part of spring, not winter. Mission accomplished: winter has been shortened to one month, January.
We can handle that. It isn't difficult to get through four measly weeks of winter.
Here in the United States, watching the national championship football game and Super Bowl can take up a good share of two of those weeks -- especially with a proper amount of napping before and after the games.
So winter isn't anything to get chilled about. It won't start until January 1 and will be over in thirty-one days. Happy almost-Spring!