My mind has been drifting towards spring, as there is little left to say about this winter (snowy, freezing, and pot-hole making about sums it up); we need more words like we need more snow. Even the meteorologists agree, as the 7 day forecast blurbs are shrinking. How many different ways can you say “Cold and below normal”? They should start writing: “Ditto, see above.”
I had been looking forward to March 15th, which, according to file photos, is about when my garden starts to stir. I eagerly pull back the blankets of last year’s wet, musty leaves, and scratch around to find the early risers. This inevitably leads to collateral damage—sort of like opening the oven before the cake is done. Still, it’s worth it to be assured that, in the words of Frog to Toad, “spring is around the corner.”
According to recent (terse) prognostications, the ground might still be frozen by mid-March, but I have been keeping my chin up. Perhaps the long, undisturbed beauty sleep will yield a spectacular spring show . I have more time to knock off in-door projects. The steady temps and persistent snowpack intensify awareness of seasonal changes: more chattering birds, swelling lilac buds, earlier sunrises, shorter shadows. This Narnian winter can’t last forever.
But recently a friend got me shivering in my salt encrusted boots with an article about how the prodigious ice cover on the Great Lakes might produce a cold summer. No!!!!!! I grew up with “cooler by the lake.” I know too well the strong east winds that rake waves of bitter chill over the city.
Some folks relish the idea of “pleasant, spring-like conditions” in July. F*ck that. My tolerance of winter rests on the promise of mid-summer swelter. Sure, I could move, but my roots here are deep, I do love the seasons, and Chicago seems—so far—decently situated for global weirding. A mild summer is nothing compared to wild fires, sinking shorelines, and dwindling water supplies.
So I am turning my frown upside down and calling on the power of positive thinking. Here is my 4-pronged strategy for embracing (or just bracing) for a “lost summer.”* Please add your ideas!
- As a lifelong Cubs fan, this should not be a problem. Enough said.
- Half of my closet is devoted to winter. The rest is devoted to the 5 hottest, most glorious days of the year. It’s time to accept and prepare for the vast in between, perhaps with guidance from friends in the Pacific Northwest.
- Stock up on firewood for backyard entertaining. When the temp dips below 75, it’s time to get out the blankets and huddle around the fire.
- Spend more time at parks and less time at beaches? (Added benefit of keeping sand out of the house.)
- Plant more lettuce and fewer tomatoes? I stink at growing tomatoes anyway, though I am partial to “This is the year!” optimism. See Cubs, above.
Look on the bright side:
- Prolonged baking season.
- Better sleep and running conditions. Even I don’t like sweaty sheets and bras.
- Michael spared from installing our 3 window AC units.
- Long blooming season?
- More cheerfulness? I am in the tropical climate loving minority. Steamy weather makes many Chicagoans as, if not more, cranky than polar vortexes.
- More to write about!
Lately, I have been disclaiming weather related commentary with “This is not a complaint.” The last few months have not been so bad, in large part to years of small investments in winter armor, and that Michael put plastic on the rattling north facing windows. There has been much sun, sledding, and snuggling. But the Polar Vortex-y Winter of 2013-14 has been notable, which makes for easier writing. It has been a muse to many, and at the rate we are going, I suspect the words will keep piling up—except perhaps on the 7 day forecasts.
For a real lost summer, look back to 1816. Yikes! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Year_Without_a_Summer