“Whether the weather be cold, or whether the weather be hot, we’ll be together whatever the weather, whether we like it or not.”

That’s a little tongue-twister I learned from my amateur stage acting days, a little exercise to warm up the vocal tools. However, it serves another purpose too as we approach spring (officially) in just a few days. We don’t have much choice when it comes to our weather, but we can enjoy it for what it is, hot, cold, or in between.

As you know, Punxsutawney Phil the groundhog saw his shadow on Feb. 2, signaling six more weeks of cold weather. And to the dismay of many, it’s been the opposite here in North Carolina. Our friends up north have been getting dusted with snow, but contrary to Phil’s prediction, we here in the south have had 80-degree days and a hefty dusting of pollen. That is, except for last week, which saw some moderate 60-degree weather and a bit of rain to wash away some of the yellow stuff.

On the first day of March, I consulted Alexa, as I normally do, to find out what the high temperature was expected to be. She told me it would be 80 degrees. Later that morning, someone assured me that we would “get a cold snap” the following week (and we did), driving temperatures back down to the 50 and 60s. Note, when I was told about the cold snap it was in the context that it was some exception to the temperatures we’d been experiencing. And while we were breaking out the shorts and flip-flops, a friend living in New Hampshire informed me they were expecting even more snow. I’m at least thankful we weren’t facing that extreme.

For some, the unseasonable weather was an excuse to dress more casually, but for others, it was an annoyance that called for allergy and headache medicine. And of course, there is cause for concern that summer may be brutally hot. It does seem, logically, that if we’re experiencing 80-degree weather in February, that we can prepare for a hotter-than-normal summer. But that isn’t the case at all. There’s simply no correlation.

According to official records, Feb. 23, 2023 was our hottest February day of record. However, on Feb. 26, 1977 the temperature was only one degree cooler than this year, and in 2017 it was just one degree cooler than that. Now, before we start getting into the median days between those years, you should also know that on Feb. 25, 1930, folks here in the Tarheel State experienced an 82-degree day.

I am not here to argue for or against climate change. That’s a whole other subject and there are valid arguments that the earth is getting warmer. I can’t even say with any certainty that we can argue that our recent high temperatures have any correlation with climate change.

In the south, we enjoy telling our visitors and northern imports that “if you don’t like the weather, just hang around, it will change.” I can take more comfort in that explanation. To borrow a quote from Mark Twain, “Climate is what we expect, weather is what we get.”

The author may not have been a meteorologist, but he’s not wrong. Weather is what happens in the short term with atmospheric changes. The climate describes weather in the long term and they can vary based on geographical regions. Scientists also suggest that climate changes take years, although the weather can change within days.

I shall return to my original point with “whether the weather be cold…” There’s little we can do to change the weather. We can prepare. We can dress comfortably and appropriately. But we can also enjoy. While I’d prefer to live out the remaining weeks of winter with more winter-like weather, I’m not averse to leaving my jacket at home and sporting short sleeves either. I might even get out my grill and enjoy a beer on my deck.

As for climate change, there are things we can do to ensure that the futures of our children and grandchildren will not be greatly troubled by future events, but there isn’t much we can do today. Just prepare your best and enjoy it, whatever it is.

And I’ll leave you with another slice of wisdom from poet James Whitcomb Riley, who said “It is no use to grumble and complain; it’s just as cheap and easy to rejoice. When God sorts out the weather and sends rain – Why, rain’s my choice.” I’ll just apply that to our unseasonably warm winter days.

James Bass is the executive director for the Givens Performing Arts Center at The University of North Carolina at Pembroke. He can be reached at [email protected]