Weekend essay: Weather happens

Weekend essay: Weather happens

The largest tomato of the year, the best-tasting Brandywine of the bunch, has been picked — in mid-October. That’s a first.


Celery, multiple stalks taken two months ago, will be harvestable again in a matter of weeks. The ribs will be smaller but it’s still a remarkable thing when one considers no row covers had to be employed.


The lettuce, planted for late fall/early winter consumption, has bolted; a new crop must be sown if holiday greens are to be a reality.


Windows? More closed than opened. Not to hold in the heat, mind you, but to hold in the cool conditioned air to ward off the humidity.


There’s been nary a dent in the cordwood, stacked at the ready and under cover out back. It’s only been cool enough this fall for two fires of any substance, one of cherry and another of Irish turf.


The leaves are falling — but more out of fatigue than it being fall. Their hues are dull brown, not the usual autumnal rainbow. Leaf piles, however, are short-lived. For their dryness begets dust as cars crush them on the street and children gather them in yards to frolic. Piles instantly are reduced to pieces.


Porch and deck plants remain in place. The canna lily and hibiscus just keep blooming and blooming, the former having produced three times as many seeds this year.


And yet to be stored are the porch and deck furniture — on which all remain the perfect place to take in an oddly lingering summer and, just perhaps, to catch the first indications of an overdue fall. The tardy bell has been ringing.


Folklore has it that a warm October leads to a cold and snowy February. Some forecasts already have been calling for exactly that.


Another folktale has it that a full moon in October without frost means there will be no frost until November’s full moon. That will be Nov. 4 this year. There was not one speck of frost on the pumpkin with this month’s full moon.


We will lament mightily what very well could be a summer turning to winter with no real fall. And come that cold and snowy February, we’ll be pining for a March that more resembles May.


“Climate change!” more than a few cluck-cluckers have been shouting, using the phrase as the expected pejorative.


“Weather happens,” more than a few old hands calmly retort, using that phrase as matter of factly as old hands, well-worn and far wiser, have been using it for aeons.


Colin McNickle is a senior fellow and media specialist at the Allegheny Institute for Public Policy (cmcnickle@alleghenyinstitute.org).