by Mike Todd

At risk of great personal harm, our local weather guy predicted about 50% more snow than usual this upcoming winter. “We need to move. I can’t take another winter like the last one,” my wife Kara said as she cranked up the thermostat. After she’d taken a few steps away, I took out my phone and turned the thermostat back down.

We have one of those fancy Nest thermostats. The regular reader(s) of this column may recall that we installed the Nest last year, since it was the only thermostat on the market that had been scientifically proven to get people to spend $250 on a thermostat.

The Nest also brings household climate warfare into the 21st century, allowing spouses to secretly change the temperature without going anywhere near the thermostat. Kara likes the house warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer, so she’s happy as long as the air in our house is as expensive as possible. I’m happy with whatever air is cheapest, but have to be careful not to get caught engaging in thermal subterfuge, lest she crank it to broil when I’m not looking.

My sister doesn’t have to deal with issues like this. Her family moved to San Diego, where a scorcher is 80 degrees, and a cold snap might hit 70. Instead of installing thermostats, people in San Diego just use a sharpie to write 74° on the wall, which is probably right.

She said, “When I was working in Washington, D.C., I remember coming out to my car and having to chip the ice off before I could even open the door, and I thought, ‘I don’t like this. This is not pleasant. I don’t want to do this anymore.’ People talk about missing the change of seasons, but whatever, I don’t miss being cold.”

She got me thinking. People cite “the change of seasons” all the time as one of the benefits of living in the Northeast, or one of the things they’d miss if they left. It’s not the seasons themselves, really, which alternate between Hades and the North Pole, but the transition between them. Is this not rather thin gruel? It’s like people in prison talking about how great the meatloaf is. Since you’re stuck there, might as well make the best of it.

Of course, this all sounds rather whiny after we’ve just come through such a beautiful time of year, with the trees putting on a dazzling display of nature’s beauty. Pretty soon, that beauty will be piled in my front yard about a foot deep, and I will join my neighbors out there to clean up the aftermath of the display, like the stadium janitors after a confetti drop.

I’m just cranky because of that snow prediction. Last winter, it snowed so often that on the rare occasion when our kids could go to daycare, they were so bored from being cooped up that they’d pass the time by contracting pinkeye, just for something different. Better to be oozing than bored.

But really, snow predictions this early in the season should be taken with a grain of road salt. It’s silly to pretend that anyone could make an accurate prediction about what the weather will be two months from now, when the 10th day of a 10-day forecast only exists because everyone knows you won’t remember what it said. If the weather guy was being honest, instead of having a sunshine or cloud symbol, everything after about the third day would just be a big question mark with the caption “The world’s a complicated place.”

So Kara and I, along with everyone else around here, will just brace ourselves and hope for the best. But since we don’t live in San Diego, we’ll expect the worst.