Fifty one point four degrees Fahrenheit. 51.4
Cool enough for donning a fleece pullover or windbreaker yet just warm enough for a brisk beach walk, a long run in the woods or a leisurely bike ride on a sunny afternoon. That's the "average" weather day, in the Boston area, in greater eastern Massachusetts, the place on God's earth most of us call home.
Though in these frigid days and sub-zero nights we been gripped by as of late, caught in mother nature's freezing fist in the last days of '17 and first days of '18, memories of such an "average" day are cold comfort. Right now furnaces groan to kick on. Frost cracks and snaps in the dead of night like a ghoulish gunshot. Car batteries sputter and die. Pipes burst. Exposed skin quickly numbs. The dog pleads "thanks but no thanks" for its usually exuberant outside walk.
For now, we are just cold. Wicked cold. Bloody cold. Numbingly cold. Dangerously cold. Caught in an unprecedented one hundred year cold, not felt here since 1918.
The thing to remember is that our current climate challenge is just that: extreme. An outlier. Highly unusual. Rare. And yes, dangerous if we were to live this way for an extended period of time. But soon weather patterns will shift and the air will warm up and temps will hit a balmy thirty two degrees, maybe even higher, and then we'll think that we're caught in a heat wave! Might even recall the extremes of real heat we felt just last June when temps soared above ninety degrees for a third straight day. Then Boston was in the midst of its seasonal second heat wave, the earliest date for such a sweaty event since records had first been kept beginning in 1872.
Makes me hope and pray for a moderate weather day one day soon, that, if you are curious, is most likely to occur in early spring or late summer, on a beautiful April Monday or a sweet September Sunday.
Moderate. Temperate. Good for the weather we share. Good advice for the life we share on planet earth too. Sure, there is something dramatic, alluring, sometimes even exciting about living on the extremes, on the edge. Pushing out to the boundaries of behavior or actions or life. Makes for great headlines and lots for things for us to talk and chatter about, not unlike extreme weather, but after awhile, to live extremely is exhausting at best, threatening at worst.
So just as I'm glad to one day soon bid adieu to our recent extreme weather I'm happy to say "So long!" to some of the more extreme extremes of human life in 2017 as well. Extreme housing and stock prices that are always more fun for the ride up than the ride down. Can you say "bubble"? Extremely crude and crass behavior from folks we've elected to lead us, ideological extremists who love to tweet and taunt and pose, but don't do so well when it comes to governing from the center, where most Americans live. Extreme levels of information, ours' for the asking, but an extreme lack of basic human wisdom too, when it comes to understanding just what it all means. Extreme expressions of religion that co-opt God and insist that the Divine loves "them" more than "those other people", extremists who actually believe that violence and intolerance is an act of holiness.
God help us all.
Do anything to the extreme and eventually it will kill you: physically, spiritually, communally and yes, when it comes the natural world too. So bundle up while you must but trust that eventually, we will return to the average, the mean, the middle, on that we can count, at least when it comes to the weather. Our world in the unknown year ahead?
Like the Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King Jr., my prayer is that we can be extremists for love. As for the rest of the next 51 weeks: I'd like an average, moderate, kind of boring, "unextreme" 2018.