Russell Wangersky: Sea change
We know the effects and impacts of the ocean here. We know its role in heating and cooling — look no further than the seven or eight degree (if you’re lucky) difference between days with onshore winds and no wind.
You’ve got to hand it to the Newfoundland climate. It consistently proves that it is possible to suck and blow at the one time.
It excels at both — sucking the warmth out of our blood as our heads are nearly blown clean off, and it makes no difference if it’s January or June, or the hybrid of the two we now call Juneuary (though with decidedly less affection than we did back when that phenomenon was new. What was that, five or six consecutive years ago now?)
Now Juneuary is “a thing,” as people like to say.
A thing that stunts your garden’s growth, unless of course you’re a dandelion. There’s not much incentive to pull weeds and push mowers clad in gloves, scarf and tuque.
A thing that keeps you from setting out the lawn furniture and socializing with the neighbours. From staining your deck, washing your car, and hosing down the windows and siding.
And don’t you dare say to me as the frigid wind chaps your face and whips your hair into your teeth, “It’s a nice day on clothes!”
And, to reinforce my reaction, a coworker commented one morning last week, “This is not good for your mental health,” as she held the door for me and then started up the stairs, her ankles blue with cold.
It was 6 C — on the 15th of June — with the stiff breeze making the fake birds flap frenetically on the roof.
I saw a man trying to cover his garbage with a blanket the other day, and the thing was twisting and bucking so much in the wind as he tried to clench it in his fists that it put me in mind of a matador with his cape on his very first day in the bull ring.
Weather forecast for tonight: dark.
Except I’ve been in a bull ring. And there were no gale force winds.
Now, as you read this, granted, the sun could well be splitting the rocks. It has been known to happen on occasion. Songbirds could be warbling, the waters of St. John’s harbour glinting like cubic zirconia — the “high end diamond alternative” — the gulls wheeling and chortling overhead. There could be buskers strumming jaunty tunes, and shiny, happy people availing of the two or three outdoor tables restaurants are hopeful enough to put out for a couple of weeks of the year. You could be smelling the gut-foundering aroma of barbecue and licking the foam off an ice cold beer as you prepare to hove off on your deck.
Well, don’t let it fool you.
This is just one day. One day in what is supposed to be a season. Can you imagine it? They get spring in some places. And summer. Spring and summer. That’s why they put out the spring and summer catalogue. For places where women wear cardigans, and the men light slacks.
That’s a fact.
What is a more important fact for me — and there’s no denying it — is that our weather is deplorable. Most. Of. The. Time.
“Well, the good thing is that we’re all in it together,” my husband observed during an uncharacteristically Pollyannaish moment.
Really? When my bare legs look like gooseflesh on the rare day when you can venture out wearing a skirt in June, that feels decidedly personal to me. I take no comfort in the notion that there are other women — and men — out there who might be sporting gooseflesh, too.
There is no solace in knowing that other people’s heat bills will continue to rack up in the triple digits or that so-and-so also lost a perfectly good rhododendron to frost. In June.
I’ll take my chances in some place where double-digit temperatures in late spring are not a cause for talk of declaring a provincial holiday, thank you very much. A place where supermarket signs that say “Please don’t leave children and pets unattended in vehicles in warmer weather” don’t set off a torrent of bitter curse words spat between clenched teeth.
So, what are we to do? We can’t change it.
Well, we can channel our despair and disillusionment into art. It’s what we’re known for here in N.L., after all.
That, and crappy weather. Here’s mine:
There once was a climate so dreary
Its inhabitants were perpetually weary
When summer was no better
Folks just reached for a sweater
And cried “Turn up the heat, would you, dearie?”
Send me your weather limericks (this is a family publication, keep in mind), and we might just print the best ones.
Pam Frampton is The Telegram’s associate managing editor. Email firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: pam_frampton