January Weather

The last week we’ve enjoyed mellow and spring-like weather, nearing 50° during the day, but when we first came here I bought a thermometer and thought the gauge was broken, so perpetually did it sit on 42°.  I wondered if the varieties of 42° needed  different names depending on wet or dry, night or day, with or without wind, blowing from what direction.

In January the three lead weather characters – rain and wind and sun – compete to be the star of a day’s weather drama. In a weak sun, wet cedar boughs glisten yellow-green. Wind shakes rainwater from the branches in a torrent on the forest side of the house. Then, startling strong sun shines through winter-smeared windows revealing that some of the holiday gossamer glow might have been cobwebs. And just as quickly, the day glowers a sullen gray. The browns forlorn, the greens dull.

January can be a series of rainy days, sometimes pouring belting rain all day. It pounds the roof, and fills standing puddles in paths and courtyard. In Washington rain you’re grateful for watertight roof and weatherproof boots. A friend here says we rust along with metal.

Sometimes the rain is quiet and steady without the abrupt thumps of wind. But wind defines a peninsula and blows, if not one way then the other. Wind gathers up a blast composed of little movements, whips along the front garden bed, pushing rosemary and evergreen huckleberry aside, heading for the woods.

Wind, switching to come from the north, brings a string of cold and clear days and frosty lawn, car, and roof. The moon, over the water at night, sets and leaves a clear day. Sailboats appear even in January. Instead of a gray line, the horizon is layers of islands: the San Juans, Whidbey, snow-covered mountains behind them dark against a pale blue winter sky. 42° and beautiful.

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