False Promise of Spring

Even though winter here in the northern hemisphere has officially more than a month to go, here in Iowa, we are getting a break from the cold. In fact it was so warm this weekend that people went out without the need of a jacket. And some even wore shorts.

Yesterday I saw flocks of geese in their majestic V-formation flying northward, which means they are coming back home. I saw children playing  at the park. And even the bikers were out cruising down the road. These are definitely not a February scene. Not in Iowa anyway.

February here is usually one of our coldest months, with the average temperature of 20-30’s Fahrenheit, and can even dipped down to the single digits or even below zero degree Fahrenheit.  We should still be subfreezing at this time and we should still be buried in snow. Yet the pile of snow at the side of our driveway from last week’s snow storm, have all melted away. We are experiencing close to summer-like temperature today.

I should not be complaining, right?

But I know that this warm respite is not going to last that long. Sooner or later, the cold wind will be back, and we’ll be facing the freezing reality again. For the record, there’s a forecast of snowstorm with possibility of several inches of snow accumulation, by the end of this week.

I too joined the multitudes of people who took advantage of this beautiful not-like-winter weather. I went out to run this morning. As I looked around, I could already see some buds coming out from the bare branches of the trees.

However I feel for the trees and plants who may be getting a little confused. Due to the out-of-season weather, the hibernating buds and flowers may be awakened too early by this warm temperature, thinking that it is already spring.

I know few years ago the same thing happened. Too early in the season, it became unseasonable warm. The buds and blossoms sprouted. Only to be frozen and coated with ice, as the cold snap came back. It killed them. That year we did not have much flowers, and in fact there were no cherry blossoms when the real spring came.

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branches coated with ice

That’s what I’m afraid would happen again. A false hope of spring. A promise of warmth that it cannot keep.

I know some of us have experienced those untruthful promises before. Some of us have been given false hope. In my native language we even have a term for that, “pinaasa lang.” 

Those empty promises and false hopes killed our buds. It crushed our expectations. But you know what? For the time being, we may have lost our flowers and our trust for humanity. But we learned our lessons. We may have become cynical, but it made us strong. Life continued, and in due time we blossomed once again.

As you might surmised, I am not just talking about the seasons here.

So I am watching this weather with a guarded hope for spring. I wish the plants and the trees are too. I’m definitely not putting away my winter coat yet.

(*photo taken after an ice storm few weeks ago)

Where have all the snow gone?

Where have all the snow gone,  long time passing?

Where have all the snow gone, long time ago?

Where have all the snow gone?

Gone to melting everyone.

 

Where have all the flowers gone, long time passing?

Where have all the flowers gone, long time ago?

Where have all the flowers gone?

Hope they’ll spring soon everyone.

IMG_2504(*Post is inspired by the seasonably warm February we are having these couple of days. It reached 60º F yesterday. Average temperature this time of year here is in the 20’s. Photo taken today from the driveway.)

 

Christmas 2015

We are experiencing a seasonably warm December right now. In fact we have more rain than snow this month, that we had flooding in downtown Des Moines these past couple of weeks. Yesterday it felt weird that we even had a thunderstorm, with lightnings and pouring rain this late in the year. Is this Iowa winter?

Come to think of it, if it has been cold enough, with all this moisture in our area, this could all be snow!

I know it’s not just here in the Midwest that we are experiencing the relatively warm weather, but also in other parts of the US. Some friends of ours in New York City even posted in Facebook that it was 70º F today there. I guess there will be no snow in Central Park this Christmas.

Experts said that it is El Niño, the periodic warming of the equatorial eastern Pacific Ocean, accounting for this phenomenon. Or is this global warming?

It’s not that I am complaining, for I’ll rather have a warm day than freeze, but my children have been wishing for snow for Christmas, just like the song “I’m dreaming of a white Christmas.” And they may not be the only ones who are praying for snow.

Then today, on this Christmas eve, it came. Santa Claus? No. Snow!

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We will have white Christmas after all.

From our family to yours, may you have a Merry Christmas!

(*photo taken with an iPhone)

 

Against the Wind

Our weather had been crazy lately. One day it was spring, with cool, crisp temperature in the 50’s F. Then came summer, hot and in the 80’s F. Then back to winter with cold winds at 30’s F with lots of snow in the forecast. And all of that in a stretch of few days. That’s Iowa weather for you.

When there’s wild swings in the temperature with warm and cold air colliding, this causes unstable condition, and sudden thunder storms, or hailstorms, or even tornadoes can erupt. In fact, few days ago, some parts of Iowa had storms with ping-pong-size hail. Good thing no tornadoes have developed, yet (emphasis on the yet).

Yesterday, I went out for a morning run. It was really windy, with steady winds of about 30-35 miles per hour, with occasional gusts nearing 40 miles per hour. That was not considered a storm still. It was just a normal Iowa windy day. (A strong tropical storm has sustained winds of 39-73 miles/hour; 74 miles/hour or more, then it is considered a hurricane; while tornadoes can reach a wind speed of more than 300 miles/hour.)

While I was running inside our housing community, I did not feel the gusting winds right away, as the trees and houses blocked some of it. However when I went out to the lonely dirt road that was part of my running route, I experienced then the full effects of the wind force. The dirt road was in the vast open, with miles and miles of empty (still early for planting) corn fields, with nothing to block the gales.

It was bad enough that I was running against the wind, but the worst part was that the strong gust was causing dust clouds. I thought of turning back, but that will be a longer way to go, so I decided to move on.

It was not easy running against the wind, I can tell you that. That 1-mile stretch of dirt road that I usually cover in 10 minutes, took me forever to run. At least that’s how long it felt. But I made it through.

In life, sometimes we feel that we are running against the wind. There will be opposition that will slow us down. They will blow dust in our face. And sometimes adversaries may even completely stop us in our tracks.

We cannot choose the direction of the wind. We can only choose the direction where we want to go. And that means, sometimes we need to run against the wind.

Black Ninja Runs Again

I woke up today and decided that I will run outside. It is the first day for Daylight Savings Time (DST) this year. That means, Spring is in the air!

I looked at the temperature gauge outside and it was a few degrees above freezing. The snow that has blanketed our surrounding for most of the winter has largely melted and what was left were small patches. You may say that it was still too cold to go outside, but hey, I was wearing my Black Ninja running gear. Ninjas are fearless and are not afraid of anything, not even frosty weather.

The sun was nowhere to be found, even though it was already 8 o’clock (DST), as dark clouds hang over the sky. In fact it was even drizzling. But since it was at least 35 degrees Fahrenheit (2 degrees Celsius) that means the rain will not freeze over the ground, and I will not encounter Black Ice (see post about Black Ice here).

I was already running for about a mile, when I have noticed that my eyeglasses were fogging and fine precipitations were misting my vision. I also became aware of the gusty winds, and that the drizzle was getting stronger. But Ninjas are not afraid of the rain. Besides, I was too far out already to turn around, might as well press on.

As I continue to run, I started to enjoy the morning even though it was not a picture perfect day. I have also observed that the migratory birds were back.

Here are the ducks, geese and swans taking a leisurely swim in the cold foggy morning.

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I completed my run without any major snag, though I have taken off my glasses the rest  of the way. Ninjas don’t just rely on sight, they can feel their way with their keen sense of hearing, smell and “Ninja” sense.

Yes, I may be a little out of breath and may have a little muscle soreness after the run, but it just feels so good to be out again, and breathe the cool misty air.

The Black Ninja runner strikes again! Next on my running gear wish list: eyeglasses with wipers.

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Black Ninja runner

(*At the time of posting, the rain has turned into snow once again. Will the Black Ninja tread through snow? Until next time….)

Snowballs

It’s March. Are you tired of winter yet like me? I am so ready for Spring!

However, my surrounding is still covered with snow, and there’s more snowfall in our forecast.  Yet there’s no use of cursing the snow, so might as well appreciate its beauty. Just bundled up of course!

Here’s the sunrise in our neighborhood.

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Maybe you can even have fun in the snow. If you ask my son, he wishes for more snow. A feet more of snow!

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Here he is in our front yard throwing snowballs.

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My daughter also joined my son in playing in the snow. However she always ends up as the target of snowballs.

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My wife even made “snow art.”

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Here are my kids again frolicking outside. Or perhaps my son is enjoying it more than my daughter.

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Pausing to admire the sunset, after some time of laughter in the snow.

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As always in life, we don’t have to always curse the dark or the cold. We can learn to accept it and even embrace it. Just like the adage: “If life gives you lemon, make some lemonade.”

And if I may add: if life gives you snow, make some snowballs.

On-a-Beach State of Mind

At the time of this writing, it is 10 degrees Fahrenheit (-12 C) outside here in Iowa, with patches of unmelted snow from a snowstorm three weeks ago. Typical condition here in our winter “wonder”land (like I “wonder” why I’m still living here?).

This is not your ideal beach weather you would say. But it is a perfect weather to escape to a tropical paradise, even for just a daydream. Please indulge me for posting these photos.

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Few weeks ago, my family and I spent a day in a beautiful beach in Ilocos Norte, Philippines. The place is named Playa Tropical Resort.

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my son jumping into the infinity swimming pool

During our visit, there was even a wedding being held that day at the resort. I should have crashed into the party and had a free drink and dinner.

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If I could just walk again in the sand barefoot, and wade into the warm ocean water….

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No, I can’t walk on the water.

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O well, time for reality now. I’ll bundle up and clear the snow.

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A Beautiful Day

Yesterday was a beautiful day here in Iowa. It was sunny and we even reached 60 F (15 C). It was so nice I walked outside without the need of a jacket. People greeted me and commented on how beautiful the day was. Talking about the weather and appreciating a beautiful day is something new I learned from the American culture.

I remember many years ago, I just moved from Manila to Morristown, New Jersey.  It was summer, and I was walking alone in the town square, when somebody I don’t know greeted me and exclaimed what a beautiful day it was. I was taken aback. I looked around me, and made sure this stranger was really talking to me or to somebody else. Being raised in Manila, when a stranger greets you, you check your wallet and make sure it is still there! (We just don’t trust strangers.) And besides, who talks about the weather in the Philippines? The climate is so monotonous with 70’s to 90’s F (22 -34 C) the whole year through, so there is really nothing to talk about. Or perhaps we just take it for granted.

But after experiencing the extremes of weather and temperature here in America (especially here in Iowa), where the temperature can have a 40 to 50 degrees swing even in one day, and when a really beautiful day only come far in between, I have learned to appreciate a beautiful day. Now if I will also appreciate having a roof above my head, a bed of my own, and having three meals a day, then it is more than just a beautiful day.

Our weekend forecast calls for freezing rain and even possibility of snow. (Again?!) I guess it will be a beautiful (snowy) day!