I sit on my porch in the late afternoon and watch the sun cast long shadows across my wicker love seat. I peel an orange, close my eyes, and inhale its sweet fragrance. Wind chimes tinkle, dogs bark, and a school bus drops off the neighbor kids. It's a perfect late-summer day.
Except it's late February.
Winter in south Texas is a mixed blessing. On one hand, I enjoy finally spending time outside on these mild days. Summers are so brutally hot that I usually stay indoors just to be able to breathe. Whenever I do brave the heat, mosquitoes - or bees - drive me back inside.
On the other hand, after endless months of suffocating heat, mild weather isn't enough for me. i want it to be cold. I have resigned myself to hot Halloweens, but in November, when temperatures start to come down out of the triple digits, I pull out my winter clothes, hoping that will cause the temperatures to drop further faster.
Last fall, I was especially encouraged by cool temperatures in early November. So I picked out a wool turtleneck and matching wool skirt to wear to my family's Thanksgiving celebration at my brother's house. Even though the temperature had hovered in the 60s for most of the month, I refused to consider wearing anything else. I was sure the cold front I'd been hoping for would blow in, and I'd be able to wear my perfect fall outfit.
On Nov. 24, I woke up, checked the weather forecast, grumbled, then dressed in a black cotton short-sleeve T-shirt and black cotton pants.
"Christmas," I said to the thick sweaters, coats, and scarves hanging expectantly in my closet. "You'll be out by Christmas."
In December, things looked promising, with temperatures dipping in and out of the 40s, but on the 25th, I put on that same short-sleeve T-shirt before heading to my brother's house. It was 80 degrees that day - almost too hot to wear black, but I wore it anyway. I skipped the cotton pants, though, and wore a red wool skirt. After watching me fan myself for an hour, my nieces asked, "Why didn't you wear shorts?"
"It's December," I told them. "It's supposed to be cold."
Driving home, I realized that my attempts to influence the weather with my wardrobe were pointless, not to mention uncomfortable. So I made an early New Year's resolution: From then on, I would dress for what the temperature actually was, not what I wanted it to be.
That night, I stood in front of my closet and had another talk with my clothes. "It snowed on Valentine's Day last year," I reminded them. Maybe this year it will do the same on St. Patrick's Day.
We're all looking forward to the middle of March with great hope.