Thursday, April 8, 2010

Unseasonable weather: A visit from summer

Generally, I like seasonable weather. It doesn’t matter the season; I just like weather that reflects the essence of the date on the calendar. I like heat waves in July, cool sunny days with bright blue skies in September, a chilly gray day with darkness falling early in November, a big snowstorm in January, a raw dampness in March, a soft warmth in the air in May.

But sometimes un-seasonable weather can be fun too. This week, for example, we’ve been having a taste of summer. It’s way too early to think this will last, but ever since Saturday we’ve been enjoying temperatures in the 70’s and unwavering sunshine. Yesterday the mercury rose into the mid-80’s, and it felt like the middle of July, not the beginning of April. Holly rode her bike after school. I went running in shorts and a T-shirt; Belle ran with me and waded into a stream to cool off as soon as I let her off the leash.

Unseasonable weather is like a visit from a friend you don’t see much. When it arrives, you immediately start remembering everything you like so much about it. On a day like yesterday, I remembered how great it is to go outside without piling on layers, and how pleasant it is to see the cows and sheep out grazing in the middle of the pasture rather than hovering next to the barn munching on dry hay. But it happens at other times of year too. An unseasonably chilly day in August makes me start thinking about all the benefits of back-to-school time even with school still a month away. A snowstorm in early December reminds me of how picturesque our setting is when the snow drifts high along the fences.

And being reminded of the upcoming season has practical benefits too. Temperatures in the 80’s yesterday inspired me to look over my summer wardrobe and think about what was worth keeping. A snowstorm in November gets everyone to the hardware store to buy shovels. Even a cold autumnal air front in the summer reminds me to buy the kids’ school supplies.

But also like a visiting guest, the unseasonable weather reminds us quickly not only of what we like about the season it hearkens to but also what we might not like so much about it. I never remember over the winter or early spring how much less energy I have in the hot weather; yesterday I was reminded generously, when I started feeling sluggish by late afternoon, the time I normally gear up to make dinner and start non-work related household tasks. Insects have started whirling in through the screens, too.

According to the forecast, our summer preview ends today and we’ll be back to early spring weather. We’ll miss summer, and we’ll look forward to seeing her again in another couple of months. In the meantime, we’ll get back to the cool windy days typical of April.

Last month during the flooding, when we had to park on the cul-de-sac behind us and walk through the woods to get to the cars because the driveway washed out, Tim commented, “it’s actually kind of fun going through the woods instead of the usual way,” and my father responded to him that any time things are different from the norm, it’s kind of fun. For kids I think this is particularly true. These days, something as trivial as an hour-long dentist appointment during the time of day that I normally write is enough to make me irritable, but I still remember how excited I was during a particularly massive blizzard in my childhood when we lost electricity for three days. Now when we lose electricity even for three hours, I get a little bit frustrated by the inconvenience, even though I know how intransigent that is of me, but back then, just living without lights on was a thrill.

And for Tim, walking through the woods to get to the car last month was a novelty. He’s right: exceptions to the regular routine are exciting. We had fun visiting with summer this week. It was great to get our bikes out and wear t-shirts and shorts. Soon enough the high heat of summer will return, only more in season. And we’ll be all the more ready for it, thanks to this week’s preview.

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