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We Are Not Amused

Nature 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 New York.

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 on moisturizer.

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 time now.

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 Ďwithering glances.í)

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.

ďI 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 Crayola box.

The water will be, well, warm-ish.

And the Penguins sweatshirt will stay in the trunk.

óJo Page

graepage@gmail.com


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