Daffodils are out on Long Island, crocuses and snowdrops are blooming, and the ponds are resolutely un-frozen. In the discount aisle today at the local supermarket: snow shovels, ice melt, kids' hats and gloves. (I should probably be snapping up these items ahead of next winter, but I guess retailers know this isn't the way consumer minds work).
Whereas this time last year we were still surrounded by several feet of snow, this year we've escaped thus far with just a few days of really cold weather (and that's cold by NY standards, so minus 9 celsius or so), one snowstorm, and a few sleety days. The New York Times weather page, desperate for some interesting news to report, has taken to new descriptions such as 'nuisance snow' for any sign of precipitation.
Local people say it's the mildest winter they can recall. There are various predictions; it'll mean a boring, unspectacular spring; a cool summer; the mosquitoes will be worse than ever this summer; oh no, they'll be better because they won't have had the chance to breed under all that melted snow. (Mention global warming and people look uncomfortable; most Americans in this area aren't climate change deniers, but they probably know they're not doing very much about it all.)
In many ways we haven't minded at all. The Doctor embarked on a full-on exercise regime in January, running or cycling every morning before breakfast, and I've carried on running since November, slowly upping my distances and stamina (I'm now up to an eight mile run around the peninsula). The lack of snow and ice has meant we can do this unimpeded, and the cool, sunny temperatures are perfect for outdoor exercise.
But the lack of snow has been a little sad for the boys. Their sleds sit in the garage, unused except for one snowy Saturday; we haven't been able to sled on the big hills at the golf course, like last year. They've had a few more ice skating lessons at the local indoor rink, but when we went skating last weekend at an outdoor rink in a park, the ice was slushy, wet and pretty unpleasant to skate on. Still, they've been able to carry on riding their bikes, and playing football in the garden; last year, that was out of the question until mid-March. (I'm just glad I didn't buy them new snowboots this year, letting them squeeze into last year's despite being half a size too small).
Unless something drastic happens in the next month, real Long Island winter will never really have happened. We'll be in the UK for most of April; when we come back, summertime will be just around the corner. So come on winter, what are you hiding? Are we going to be get a last minute blast that will kill off all the budding blossom? Or is this it; The Mild Winter?