Are Not Amused
is having her saucy little way with us this summer. And I
donít like it.
I mean, I often ask myself why I came back to upstate New
York to live. Iíve lived in other places with so-so climates.
But Iíve also lived in some wonderful climatesóDenver, Virginia,
even London, for a semester as a college student. Sure, each
of those places have some drawbacks: It snows in Denver, itís
humid in Virginia and everybody knows London can be as dreary
as a trench coat.
But what they donít have are our ice-cold, spirit-sapping,
snowy winters that morph into mockeries of spring. You can
forget the April-showers-bring-May-flowers thing in upstate
I remember being stunned to see gardens blooming in March
when I lived in Virginia. Until then I had thought spring
was just a myth, like the Elysian Fieldsóand I donít mean
the ballpark in New Jersey.
When I saw those gardens, I understood spring fever instantly.
Of course, you fall in love. Birds do it. Bees do it.
People who live in climates where thereís spring do it. I
wanted to do it, too.
So what did I do? I moved to Denver.
Everybody always talks about how thereís no humidity in Denver.
Well, I like humidityóyou donít have to spend as much money
But what I liked about Denver was that, while it did snow,
it didnít last forever. You could count on a few days of fluffy
white on the sidewalks. After that the Denver sun would melt
it like a pat of butter on an English muffin. I could handle
that kind of winter.
After being back here for a few years, I finally gave myself
carte blanche to bitch with impunity about the wintersóprovided
that I never, ever complain about the summers.
So I find myself in the middle of a dilemma.
The best I can do is rationalize my current ranting on the
basis that what weíre experiencing isnít really summer. Itís
an unnamed, freak season of excess rain, wind and temperatures
that make me wonder why I ever bought that strapless sundress,
the one that, when I wore it out to dinner, I ended up covering
up with a Pittsburgh Penguins sweatshirt, which was all that
we had in the car.
I know. Iím sounding cranky.
Iím sounding cranky in part because I am writing this in a
screened-in sunroom of the lovely house where I have been
staying. Sun is pouring in from all sides. The birds are singingóor
at least the two redwing hawks are screeching. The flowers
in the well-tended gardens make me feel as though Iíve wandered
into Giverny and will run across Monet with his easel any
However, as I write in this sun-splashed solarium, I am also
wrapped up in a blanket since I am foolishly wearing a little
short skirtósuitable for summeróand the aforementioned Pittsburgh
Penguins sweatshirt which my husband had the audacity to tell
me not to get dirty since he was wearing it the night they
won the Stanley Cup.
I threw him a withering glance. (Iíve always wanted to throw
I am also cranky because the plants in our container garden
blow over regularly and most of my herbs are wash-outs and
the screen-tent we bought so we could hold dinners well into
the evenings and sip Shiraz by the light of the citronella
candles got smashed in a hail storm, and is now lying in the
back yard like the black robe of the liquidated Wicked Witch
of the West.
I am cranky because my husband runs the air conditioner. I
mean, come on, we donít need an air conditioner this summer.
We need space heaters.
I am cranky because I went with my daughter to her college
orientation last week and the weather was supposed to be warm
and sunny. So I packed things to wear that were suitable for
warm and sunny weather.
Many of the orientation events were held outdoors. Like all
the meals. And the ice cream social.
donít want to go to an ice cream social,Ē my daughter grumbled.
The parents werenít required to eat ice cream. We had the
option of hearing jazz played by the students. I opted for
my hotel room. I figured Iíd run a bath, only to discover
that my idea of hot water and the hotelís idea of hot water
differed by many degrees. I lay there, trying to tell myself
I was warming up. But you canít always believe the things
you tell yourself.
Now in the desperation spawned by my climate-controlled crankiness
Iíve begun to have outlandish expectations for what it will
be like during our week on the coast in August. It will be,
Iíve no doubt, pure bliss:
The sun will shine all day, every day.
The skies will be the blue of the cornflower crayon in the
The water will be, well, warm-ish.
And the Penguins sweatshirt will stay in the trunk.