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Dog Days

by Jo Page on August 23, 2012


I’m sitting here in a pool of sunshine, sky as blue as faded denim, tree branches swaying in the lazy summer breeze, June bugs buzzing and squirrels hornily cavorting. Doesn’t that sound bucolic? A real dream of a day?

But guess what? I’m shivering. I’m freezing. I’m wearing pajama bottoms and a sweater. I’m wearing socks. It’s only 70 degrees.

As far as I’m concerned, this is not bucolic. It’s simply weary, old August.

As summer draws to its close, I resent the kind of weather that the rest of the world apparently loves—these bright, cool, temperate days with nary a cloud (or those really fluffy ones people say look like things that they never do) in the sky.

Call me a curmudgeon if you want, but I don’t like all this grab-a-sweatshirt-and-go weather.

I don’t want to have to “grab a sweatshirt.”

Except for the threat of bats, I like those sticky, sluggish, sweaty days of the upper 80s, lower 90s, the kinds of days most people complain about. To which I say, “Oh, is the ice melting too fast in your drink for you? Well, chug-a-lug and order another one, silly.” That is basic science.

Now I’ll be the first to admit that it has been a hot summer. (Oh, and did I also mention how much I hate the past-tense? Applied to anything other than medical procedures and bad marriages?) And I’m trying to be cultivate a good attitude about this current cool-down even though I resent wearing pajama bottoms and socks when what I’m hankering to wear are the skimpy duds I’ve worn all-day-every-day this summer not because I have a need to show off my aging bits but because, dammit, it feels good to have the air on your skin. Nothing weird about that.

The problem with this weather is that it signals that August is winding down and fall is on its way and in spite of myself, I take that as personal affront. I know it’s wrong to. It’s wrong, theologically. Ontologically. Just like Elton John says, “It’s the Circle of Life.” And all that jazz.

That’s well and good. Nevertheless, what I would like—without this being any kind of endorsement of global warming—is a little extension of summer.

I’d just like a few more of those “Look at me! I don’t have gooseflesh!” days when I’m too hot all the time and I’m fine with that.

It used to be that I looked forward to the catalogs that arrive about this time of year, the catalogs with their over-priced sweaters that I was sure would make me look just like Claudia Schiffer in Love, Actually once I’d scraped up enough money to buy a couple of them to wear with tight jeans and a good pair of boots. Hell-o, World!

But after years of extensive therapy, I’ve learned a couple of things:

First: I’m short. Smurf-like in bulky sweaters. Especially if they’re blue.

Second: I don’t have Claudia Schiffer’s cheekbones. Or height. And both of us have added a few years since Love, Actually.

Third—perhaps most salient: I can’t afford those sweaters. Or if I could I probably wouldn’t buy them simply on principle. I’m a Lutheran pastor. We don’t do The Peruvian Connection. We do Peter Harris. (Oh, right, I shouldn’t speak for all of us about Peter Harris since most Lutheran pastors aren’t women who fantasize about shopping The Peruvian Connection catalog. About that I feel safe to generalize.)

So the lure of the luxury of sweaters no longer does anything to quell that empty pit-of-my-stomach feeling when the mercury sinks below 80 and everybody starts talking about the apple crop. Apples-schnapples.

Even my daughter, who normally shares my preferences for hot, muggy, fetid weather, admitted sheepishly that she had gotten tired of being uncomfortable night and day for as many weeks as we have had our heat wave this summer. For my part, I copped to being grateful that I have an air conditioner in my bedroom.

But now that I’ve had to put the comforter back on the bed and am having the return of the “it’s too cold to get up” syndrome which afflicts me the bulk of the year and makes me late for everything, I’m thinking that sweating like a racehorse while eating dinner out-of-doors is a small price to pay for not getting out of bed in time to make the breakfast cut-off at Panera.