There was a time when the seasons were predictable – they were the staging posts of the year. The choreography was reliable, you knew what to expect and when it would happen. Winters were wintry in general. That meant the temperatures were overall low-ish. There was occasional snow and frosty nights. Days of wind and rain. Grey days and sunny days. The weather was variable, but overall a winter was predictable (that may sound like a contradiction) – but it was as expected a bit of this and a bit of that and you planned accordingly. The other seasons were predictable too. Daffodils arrived in time for Easter not in January or even December as has happened this winter in some sheltered places.
There is always something very reassuring about predictability. It’s like a safe pair of hands. Nowadays, the script has been thrown out of the window. The weather has become more extreme: it blows hot or cold, flood or drought and more often than not gets stuck in a rut. It won’t or can’t change. It’s like a gramophone record that’s got stuck in a groove.
This December is proving to be one of the warmest (if not the warmest) on record. And the warmth is accompanied by storm after storm battering the north-west of England and Scotland with flood after flood. People up north are having a truly awful month.
I feel like shouting: ‘Enough! Change the record.’ But no-one’s listening, except that it is just possible in the medium to long-term that the recent climate conference in Paris might see some action to prevent the situation getting any worse, but I’m not holding my breath.
Five years ago, December was notable for it’s persistent extreme cold. On Christmas Day we walked through the village admiring the curtains of icicles hanging from the guttering of buildings.
No icicles this year, but the Ice Cream purveyors might be quite popular as people wander around in their shirt sleeves and shorts.
And it is not just the UK that is over-warm. Much of Northern Europe is suffering the same fate and ski resorts are in desperate need of snow. As yet we have no ski trip booked but having missed a summer holiday this year we are desperate for an escape to the mountains. But for the time being we are just watching and waiting for the snow to arrive.