Soaking in the sights — through a glass, darkly
In July, I remember one Saturday that was blisteringly hot — we’re talking above 20 C, folks.
I won’t soon forget it. G. and I had a decadent picnic in the middle of the afternoon, complete with red and white checkered cloth, ice-cold sauvignon blanc and five kinds of cheese.
I can see it now, the condensation beading on the galvanized ice bucket and on the rounded bowls of the wine glasses.
I can still feel — if I concentrate really hard — the light sheen of perspiration on my forehead; the warmth of the sun on my skin; the grass tickling between my toes.
The sun and the wine and the food all conspired to make me drowsy, lounging there in the heat with the perfume of flowers all around. It was like Paradise — no, not that one, the idyllic one, with good weather.
A graceful yellow butterfly flitted randomly through the foliage, stopping now and again to alight. A fat bumblebee industriously buzzed its way from flower to flower, disappearing inside the bells of the scarlet weigela.
The dog, giving up his pitiful mooching only when the last piece of cheese had disappeared, lapped noisily at the water in his metal bowl and then curled up contentedly for a doze in the sun.
A couple of ants meandered across our picnic cloth — clearly with a destination in mind — to complete the visual cliché.
So, you can see why I don’t quite get all of the griping and complaining about the weather.
We had our nice day in July. Must we demand so much of August? Did you really expect seasonable temperatures? Further glimpses of the sun?
The horrible weather in St. John’s is hardly new. Yes, this summer has been the worst in living memory. And yes, the other night when I stuck my head out the door for a moment to try to see the sky, I could see my breath.
But think of it as a challenge. There are ways to adapt.
First off, we’ve got to lower our expectations. We have two seasons here, winter and non-winter. Learn to enjoy both.
This is non-winter. Non-winter can run to extremes. There can be a nice day, like the one described above. Those are very rare. This is more the norm. As I write this, it’s freezing, overcast, drizzling and windy, but there is no snow on the ground.
And there are other positives. The lilies are out in our rock garden. The roses are blooming. I know this because I admire the yard through our kitchen window using binoculars.
They are very helpful for those 27 days a month when it is too miserable to be outside in the flesh.
True, I don’t get to actually smell the roses or touch the lilies’ smooth petals that way, but then again I don’t have to worry about pesky pollen or stinging bees.
Nature can be better through binoculars.
Think about it.
When the wind is vicious and cold, turning leaves and flower petals into whirling dervishes, I’m safe and warm inside, watching the show from behind the glass.
When the fog wraps the yard in its clammy shroud, I don’t have to fight my way through it. I just take the binocs and peer through the mist, enjoying glimpses of the garden closest to the house. When the fog finally lifts, eight or 10 days later, getting to see the whole yard again is like a bonus.
On the rare day when the wind isn’t bending and snapping tree branches, you can spot the odd songbird amid the foliage.
Binoculars can also help you spot power lines that have been downed by the gale-force winds. Or fallen roof shingles that the wind has peeled off the shed.
What’s that blowing through the yard? Quick — grab the binoculars. Oh, look, it’s the neighbour’s patio umbrella, airborne.
Look! It’s a giant blue balloon! Oh wait, it isn’t. It’s a bag of recyclables blowing down the street.
It’s nice watching the world through the window in non-winter. True, you don’t get to chat with your neighbours, but your car is washed clean by the frequent pounding rain. It also blasts the bird poop off the bistro table and chairs — not that you use them much. And it keeps those pesky crows from squawking incessantly in the backyard — Awk! Awk! Awk! — because their feathers are sogged and they can’t achieve liftoff from wherever they are now.
I don’t miss the racket.
Bring it on, I say, bring it on. The biting wind. The lashing rain. The smothering fog. The leaden-grey skies. The persistent, skin-soaking mist. The soul-crushing, spirit-dampening waves of depression at waking to find every single godforsaken day just like the one before it.
Give me St. John’s in August.
Pam Frampton is The Telegram’s story editor. She can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.