Monday, June 6, 2011

Summer Weather - Feast or Famine

Can we safely say it's summer time?


Well it’s here. The Chicago summer. There was no spring in any sense of the word. Only last week I was complaining, along with many I might add, about the freezing temperatures here in Chicago. Not quite freezing, but too bloody cold for May. We were in the low 40’s (farenheit) and still wearing winter clothing and footwear. I took the dog out one day wearing my biggest ski jacket, winter boots, and still had to come back early because my hands were too cold!

And then all of a sudden, wham! 90 degrees. The weather people had warned of it, but you don’t quite believe it do you? I mean how can you be wearing ski gear one day and beach wear the next without getting on a plane and going somewhere?

The funny thing about the Chicago summer is that we’re pretty much guaranteed warmth when it finally arrives, but that doesn’t always equate to “good weather”. So far we’ve had two rounds of severe thunderstorms (we’re talking flash floods and near fatal lightening) and a couple of tornado warnings. Flying at this time of year is often more of a pain than in the middle of winter because of all the thunder, which either makes for cancellations or extra flying time as the pilot tries to navigate around some huge “system” in the sky.

It didn’t help to hear of all the “fabulous” weather in England while we were still freezing our butts off.
All I can say is – when I come over at the end of June, the British summer I’ve been hearing so much about had better still be going on.


Ah, the weather.  What would we do if we didn’t have it to complain about?

After the coldest December on record here in Sussex, we were treated to a mild first quarter of 2011, followed by the driest spring anyone can remember.  This has been one of the only times I can recall people complaining that it isn’t raining.

We recently returned from Scotland where the weather was uncharacteristically tropical (well, for Scotland, anyway) and you could tell the Scots didn’t know what to do about it.  Nice, sunny, warm weather?  In Scotland?  What they did do was go around with too little clothing on (not in a prurient sense, but in a way that tells you there was going to be a lot of pink, peeling skin in the near future) and went to the beach.

The thing is, pretty much anywhere in Britain, and in Scotland in particular, the beaches, however inviting they look, merely give access to frigid water.  Even in August the sea can freeze your extremities off, and at the end of May you need survival gear if you are going to do anything other than wet your toes in the surf.

The method of swimming over here has no relation to what I think of as swimming, which involved lazy days slashing about in the gentle currents of the Kinderhook Creek, or jumping repeatedly into the inviting water from the rope swing or the rocky cliffs.  Here, people seem to regard swimming as dressing up in a bathing suit, walking out into the waves up to their knees, then running—squealing and splashing—back to the relative warmth of the shore.

It must be frustrating, during these scorching days (we’re talking in the seventies, now) to have being too hot or freezing cold as the only temperature options open to you.

Today we were blessed with some much needed drizzle under a cooling cloud cover, and you just know that somewhere, someone was complaining about it.  But that’s the good thing about weather, it is always doing something to get your attention.  I recall one memorable October morning aback in 1987 when we woke to a bona fide blizzard.  It was so bad that when I ventured out to get some supplies from the convenience store not a quarter mile away, I found myself lost in a white out.  Then I heard branches (tree limbs, actually) cracking and thumping to the earth all around me.  It gave me a healthy respect for Mother Nature, and I was glad just to make it back to the safety of my house, without the supplies.

This storm cut power to much of New England and made travel impossible.  A friend of mine ended up staying with us for a few days until the road to her house was cleared.  During that time—being blessed with both a gas stove and a fireplace—we basically camped out in our living room, eating turkey and ham and other items that were thawing out in the freezer and drinking ice cold beer kept chilled in the snow banks outside the door.

When my friend was able to return to her home—where the electric and other utilities were in working order—she discovered that she was having so much fun roughing it in the disaster area that she came back to finish weathering the storm with us.  We were glad to have her—you can only eat so much turkey.

Now that is the way to enjoy bad weather.

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  1. Yes...... England has thrown everything at us this year, weather wise.
    There are so many natural disasters on the news, everywhere though, that I feel I mustn't grumble.
    English weather keeps us on our toes!
    Maggie X

    Nuts in May

  2. I'm not sure where Mike lives, but here in Oxford following the glorious Spring, temperatures have dipped back down to usual March levels. For example, I spent most of last week with a hot water bottle on my lap in the office, because being an educational institution, our heating goes off on May 1st.

    That said, apart from the drizzle, things seem to be more back to normal now, so hopefully 'glorious' will be restored by the time of your visit Toni.

  3. No worries Toni the heat is supposed to break tonight when thunderstorm 8910 of the last couple months rolls in. It'll be under 70 tomorrow. Sigh. I don't care if stuff gets wet, I'm leaving my windows open, my house is so hot it makes me want to cry.

    Can't it be fall 2008 again? That was without a doubt the best weather I've ever experienced.

  4. And as luck would have it, Thursday is Class Day at school, when my teen graduates high school. It's usually a lovely outdoor picnic and this year will be the first in a while to be colder and rainy. The only day of this week to be bad weather. Pah!


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