WEATHER OR NOT
Are you a lucky weatherproof person? No, I don't mean is your skin impervious to the elements and does your hair remain frizz-free even in the tropics. What I'm asking is if your mood is unaffected by seasonal changes — your happy-go-lucky disposition undampened by sleet, sub-arctic blizzards, or sweltering heat and humidity.
Actually, do any such people exist? If so, I have yet to meet one. Everyone I know seems to have a definite season preference. They either relish the frigid snows of winter or they flourish during summer's most blistering days.
I am ignoring those whose favorite season is spring or fall. Well, duh! Wouldn't we all wish every day to be bright and breezy, with a temperature range of 60-80 degrees? Actually, maybe not. A reasonably rational friend who had lived in Hawaii for over a year claimed he became bored with perfect weather. He loved it for the first couple of months, he said; but eventually when he looked out the window in the morning, he'd groan, "Oh, no! Another #$%& beautiful day!"
Of course to those of us who live in New England, the spring/fall issue is moot. We rarely get to experience either. We might retire one night in early March, nursing our aches from shoveling the front walk for the third time that day, and awake to the birds singing and the weather gal forecasting temperatures in the 90s by noon. Then one sweltering humid night in mid-September we could go to bed with the bedroom windows wide open, only to find snow blowing in through those windows in the morning. Well, maybe it's not quite that extreme, but it sometimes seems that way.
As for me, I've always been a summer person. I don't really enjoy intense heat and humidity, but I prefer it to bone-chilling cold and blizzards. And I especially love the long daylight hours of summer. I start getting dejected on June 22, when the days begin getting shorter. And I HATE it when the stores start advertising "back-to-school" specials a week after schools have closed for the summer. Then they compound the offense by hauling out the Halloween decorations on August 1. Isn't the death of July disheartening enough? Do they have to remind me that October (the last month of the year when, with a little luck, we might have some nice days) will also soon be gone?
On the other hand, my friend Jane, who prefers winter, claims she not only likes the cold, she loves the darkness at 4:00 P.M. "It's cozy!" she says. Puhleeze! You know how I spell "cozy"? D-E-P-R-E-S-S-I-N-G! To counter the early darkness in winter I bought a lamp that was advertised to "spread sunshine all over the room." In reality it spreads a couple of weak beams over about one square foot of my desk.
Jane always tries to cheer me up in mid-December by proclaiming that the days will be getting longer and spring will be soon arrive. That just dejects me more. Spring means another birthday for me, and I don't need a reminder that another one is swooping down on me.
My friend Irma hates summer because she dislikes being confined indoors with air conditioning. What about being cooped up indoors with artificial heat all winter? At least the summer heat doesn't restrict your activities. You can go to the movies, shopping, for a walk ... whatever. Not so in winter when snow and ice make driving impossible (if you can ever shovel out your car, that is) and walking perilous. The mere thought of a broken hip is enough to discourage any forays beyond the front door until the first thaw.
If you are foolhardy enough to venture outside, you must deal with the whole wardrobe issue. In summer, you can just grab your car keys and go, whereas in winter you have to allot at least twenty minutes to layering — tee shirt, turtleneck, sweatshirt, parka, knit hat (with ear flaps), woolen scarf, mittens ... and that's just the top half of your body. Below the waist come the tights, long johns, woolen socks, ski pants, boots ... By the time you've put all these on, you're already late for wherever you were going. Furthermore, you look like Sasquatch and you can't move.
If you ever do make it out, returning home is equally traumatic. You must remove the boots before you even step over the threshold, or the stuff you had put on your walk to melt the ice will eat a hole through your carpet and/or floor. And what to do with the rest of your outer clothing? Forget hanging them in the mudroom, if you have one. You haven't shoveled out a path to the back door, remember? But not to worry, your front hall or living room will become a mudroom as you divest yourself of all those layers which had been ice-caked and which start dripping over everything as soon as they hit the heated interior of your house (unless the furnace has conked out again, that is).
My winter-loving friends claim that tracking beach sand into the house in summer is just as bad. Hah! Not even close. First, you can shake the sand out of your sandals at the door since your toes will not get frostbitten while you do. And should any get inside, two minutes with a broom or vacuum cleaner takes care of it. No need to send a distress call to Carpet Catastrophes 'R Us.
Furthermore, in summer you have no expensive dry cleaning bills. You just toss all those cotton blend shirts, skirts, shorts and slacks into the machine and press the wash 'n wear cycle button. And imagine all the closet space you'd have if you didn't have to store bulky winter coats, jackets, sweaters and boots.
As for your hair, though it may frizz up in the heat and humidity, that's more attractive than flat hat-hair you must endure all winter because of those afore-mentioned knit caps.
The winter worshippers rhapsodize that all these inconveniences are a small price to pay for the beauty of the sun sparkling on a carpet of new-fallen snow. In the back yard, maybe. The front, however, unless you live in Sherwood Forest, is another story. Within an hour after a storm, the exhausts of passing cars transform the glistening mounds into dirty, dismal, disgusting glop.
It's fortunate that though we can talk about the weather endlessly, we can't do anything about it. Politicians have enough to squabble over without adding climate control to the mix.
Candidates used to promise such things as "a chicken in every pot." I couldn't be that easily bought. But guarantee me a little grass shack on a sunny Hawaiian beach, and my vote is yours.
Rose Mula was an executive assistant, a public relations specialist, and an operations manager for a New England theater chain before discovering a passion for writing. She has written business and trade articles to earn a living, and humor for the fun of it.
Her work has appeared in The Saturday Evening Post, Yankee, Modern Maturity, The Christian Science Monitor, The Reader's Digest, The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Baltimore Sun, and more than six dozen other magazines and newspapers. Actually-thousands of newspapers, since one of her essays, The Stranger in My Mirror (originally titled, The Stranger in My House), was reprinted in Ann Landers' nationally syndicated column in 1999, without Rose's byline. Ms. Landers explained that she had received it from her cousin in Phoenix and wanted to share it with her readers even though she didn't know the author. When Rose left a phone message for her, Landers herself returned the call personally, with gracious compliments and apologies, and she promptly printed an attribution.
Meanwhile, Rose did some sleuthing and found her Stranger running rampant (and nameless) on dozens of websites, all but one of which claimed no prior knowledge of the author but were happy to hear from her and add her name. The exception was the owner of a site who claimed she had had the story for over twenty years. Not true, Rose pointed out, because in the essay she mentioned VCRs, which were very rare back then, and ATMs, which didn't exist for years later.
Rose never was able to identify the original kidnapper who stole her Stranger away. A couple of years before, her hometown newspaper, The Andover Townsman, published it. She assumes that a reader scanned it, without her byline, and started the whole distribution chain by e-mailing it to a friend who decided to share it with other cyber pals. And the saga continues to this day, the Stranger is still popping up in e-mails across the nation. Rose wishes she herself can achieve the same immortality. Meanwhile, she can reached by e-mail.Rose's new book, If These Are Laugh Lines I'm Having Way Too Much Fun, will be published by Pelican Publishing Company in the spring of 2006.