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Once upon a time everyone who lived in Gunnison had multiple stories of multiple winters of cold. Like fish, I find these stories grow larger with time, and everyone I know can remember winters where it was 20, 30, 40, 50, no, maybe it was 60 below for an entire week, two weeks, no, maybe it was a month and a half . . . we should all agree it used to be colder in Gunnison in the winter.

Yesterday, in January, month of Cold Winter, it was warm. Unseasonably so. Or perhaps not: this is what happens when you decide to forego memory and look for actual facts, an attitude that seems to be falling by the wayside in America these days. I went to Wunderground just now, because I was going to guess our temperature was somewhere around 40 yesterday.

But an official weather site, presumably with access to actual data, tells me the high yesterday was 32, and that while that was, indeed, above average, the average high for Jan. 26 in Gunnison is, coincidentally, 26. The record, which I would have thought we were close to, is 47.

At the other end, yesterday’s low was high (a high low, or hi lili hi lo, for those of you musically inclined), 4 above as opposed to the average 7 below or the record of minus 30. (We’re in Fahrenheit, by the way.) Minus 30 is cold. Not the minus 70 I personally recall from my childhood, you understand, but still kind of cold. If you’re a wimp.

[As an aside, yesterday’s breakfast was the perfect illustration of just how well memory works, when three of us were trying to recall the same momentous occasion of when we met Carol and her family, and while all three of us knew we had it remembered correctly, our recollections didn’t jibe. Make of that what you will, amateur psychologists.]

Whatever the temperature yesterday, it felt warm. Especially in a house with a large bank of south-facing windows. The thermostat is as far away from those windows as it could possibly be, and it read “75” by mid-afternoon. So I opened a window. And then Lynn opened the sliding glass door. And then the back door got opened. January, and everything that could be opened on the south side of the house was.

Definitely not the 80 below that used to last all January long.

While we had buckets of snow a year ago in the winter, enough that all fears of not being able to fill Blue Mesa Reservoir were evaporated, those wacky scientists keep telling us we’re still in a prolonged drought here in the southwest. The rest of the world may be worrying about rising sea levels, but here where we are a mile or more above current sea level, we maybe ought to be turning our eye toward Mesa Verde or Canyon de Chelly.

These are places where people, perhaps a thousand years ago, or more, put a lot of time and effort into their housing, only to have to abandon them when the water dried up. Too much water, too little water . . . we humans are rarely satisfied with the status quo.

While we’re on the subject of abandonment, I’m going to cut my losses here. I’ve started and stopped and tried to fit this around everything else, and I’ve lost my way as well as my train of thought. So I will leave it to you to decide where I thought I was going with all this, other than to note that Wunderground is telling me that today’s high is supposed to be about the same as yesterday’s, but the weather itself is a completely different animal, lots of clouds and some off-and-on wet snow.

Where we were too warm yesterday, Lynn now has the fireplace on, and all doors and windows are firmly closed. Because it might drop to 20 below tonight. Maybe 30. It could end up down at 60. You just never know.

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