Houston usually has roses in December, but this year at Winter Solstice it’s all kinds of flowers in bloom. My friend Jan has a stunner of a peach-pink rose as big as a dessert plate nodding over her front steps. My balcony has roses, a summer morning glory engaged in an encore performance, and sweet alysum that volunteered up from last year’s seed and put out a swarm of tiny purple flowers. With daytime temperatures hitting the 80’s people are Christmas shopping in shorts. The weather forecasters have high hopes that Christmas Eve will see lows in the 30’s and feel more like Christmas.
Warm temps aren’t holding down the Christmas decor. Lights and trees and wreaths and yard art and cars wearing reindeer antlers. I saw a great one the other day. A late-model compact car had perky reindeer antlers adorned with little bells on each prong. There was a soft brown deer-ear under each antler; the car even had reindeer ears. I wonder what an alien anthropologist would make of it… Suppose a very alien anthropologist sees cars wearing reindeer antlers and ears, once a year. Obviously it’s an annual religious ritual, one in which the mask of the reindeer god is assumed, and by so doing the car aspires to partake of the divine attributes of the reindeer god, chiefly, flying, but the religious ritual is contextualized in cosmology: the reindeer god is a deity from a mythical creation time when the world was snowy and blessedly cool.
Page 1 of the Houston Chronicle (Dec. 22) had an article titled “Dear Santa: All we want is winter” that started, “The first day of winter felt anything but. Houston set records both for high temperature… and a high minimum, with Tuesday’s low falling to a mere 68 degrees.” Later it said, “The record heat caps a year in which Houston recorded its warmest month ever – August – and a temperature as warm as 94 degrees as late as Oct. 27, which had never happened before.”