The odd thing about winter is that the moment it begins the days become longer. The seasons are like tea kettles, they don't boil the moment you put them on the stove, you have to wait for them to whistle. The cold of winter is the doing of fall. There's a built-in delay that warns against checking only the calendar, or relying too heavily on the angle of the sun. Already I'm talking about winter, and it's two and a half weeks away. Last night it was 27° and misty. As I write, the thermometer is trying desperately to reach 40. For a place where 110° in September is not uncommon, this qualifies as cold. Of course, I see pictures in the news of people trudging through snow and realize it's only relatively cold — mild, in fact. But for me, it's definitely cold.

Years ago I visited a quilt shop in Hawaii. The missionaries brought skills from colder regions when they came. They taught the natives quilting among other things. Had they been more receptive, the natives might have taught them a thing or two, like cuddling up when it gets cold or the advantages of having more than one wife. The Hawaiians still produce magnificent quilts. They have a flare all their own. "But, what do they do with them," I asked. I was already on my second or third shirt that sweltering day, on the verge of abandoning resort casual. "Oh, goodness," the charming gray haired descendant of missionaries replied, "sometimes it goes down to 60° at night. Without a good quilt they'd freeze."

Well, if it reaches 60° before mid-afternoon today, I may run naked in the streets. There must be a formula with lots of squiggles and subscripts in Physics somewhere that says heat falls faster than it rises. The transition from summer to fall always seems more abrupt than the transition from fall to winter. The transition from winter to spring is a long and chaotic endeavor. And then it's summer again. I wonder if it's just that in January we start looking forward to summer, while in November and December we don't even look forward to looking forward to summer, we just regret the summer that is already gone. Things seem colder than they are. Except that my fingers have turned purple.