Here we go again, summer is upon us, even though a short while ago we saw snow in the yard.
Summer in Maine I find interesting, unlike the hot summers of my childhood in suburban Philadelphia, where it would become hot and stay that way. I remember standing in the back yard as a kid, dreaming of our annual August trip to Maine.
It was okay in Maine in the daytime, not as hot as Pennsylvania but hot enough to be comfortable. It was the evenings when things turned arctic. On would go the sweaters and even jackets to stay warm. This, if I remember, was part of the fun....different than Pennsylvania.
My late Great Aunt Amy had an oil stove in the living room, which I never saw turned on even though it was the only heat. Of course, she wintered in the deep South, Maryland, with cousins, so she probably didn't think of any type of heat in Maine.
I recall the time our family, at the local farmer's cynical (I believe, looking back on it now) advice huddled in a depression in a field to see the deer. It was cold that night. We didn't see any deer that evening, but if we had they would have been shivering.
That was forgiveable. The same farmer hauled us on his hay wagon behind the chugging John Deere and even let us help. Looking back, I wonder if the word "help" really meant "entertainment."
In Maine, things begin to heat up toward the end of June. Then in July, it really gets hot....for about two weeks. I've hiked during those two weeks, wearing shorts and T-shirt. I know Maineiacs are supposed to wear wool pants and flannel shirts, but this Maineiac-since-1965 never quite caught onto that tradition. Shorts and a T-shirt are good enough for a hot July Maine day. (We only have about 14 of them.)
July is also when many tourists are about, and they don't notice the heat of July in Maine. They have much more of it back home. Some have asked me when summer comes. I usually told a half-truth, such as, "It was three days ago." If they hadn't yet hit Maine on their summer jaunt by three days ago, I was safe. None of them ever challenged my truthfulness.
In mid-July, things cool a bit. I've seen a few summers when it stayed hot, but generally it is not as hot as early July. From Mid-July on is why summer camps on lakes come equipped with a stove of some type.
August brings still cooler weather, cool enough to make a summer vacation comfortable. Of course, halfway through August the folks with kids leave Maine Vacationland to get home in time to shop for new school clothes for their breadsnappers. Do those kids ever get old enough to come to Maine and stay all the way through August? Or do they have their own kids by then, so strike out for the out-of-state suburbs in mid-August.
I've seen it fairly cool by the end of August, just before September. September is the nicest month of any to be vacationing in Maine. First, it is not as hot as the earlier summer. Secondly, most of the tourists have already fled Maine's arctic late-summer weather. So they miss the best vacation time in Vacationland.
We've done volunteer work on the Appalachian Trail in September and even October, when the weather was pleasant. Of course, we've seen one or two years when the October trip to the AT also was a trip into snow. I remember one October, when I became almost stranded in a snowstorm on a northwest-facing-mountain while volunteering. I could have perished in that snow and created another good outdoor tale for the folks to read. But, being chicken, I found my way out, back to the good old Subaru, and drove slowly -- very slowly -- down the snow-covered log road I'd come up before it snowed.
I've heard students refer to winter as ice-fishing season, spring as open-water fishing, summer as baseball season, and fall as 'untin' season. They were right, of course. Of course, I remember one spring when the open- water part consisted of paddling our canoe up a stream still frozen with ice clogs. A great trip with cold hands. Don't ask me why I took that trip. I don't remember.
I do remember that this year, as always, that fine summer's first holiday, Memorial Day, included almost no sun with its warmth until Memorial Day afternoon. By then, the tourists had left...usually on Sunday. In the past, Memorial Day weekend has had poor weather.
It's always been that way. Don't ask me why.
Unless it's what makes us all appreciate summer -- if and when it finally shows up.
Milt Gross can be reached for corrections, harassment, or other purposes at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Milton M. Gross Copyright 2014