It’s great that summer is finally here. Really great. I feel like it’s well enough along that I can say those words without fear of jinxing everything and having to go digging around for ski wax.
One of the benefits of a long, cold, dark and miserable winter is that it makes the summer weather, when it finally comes, feel that much better by comparison. You can’t know joy without suffering, white without black, yin without yang. So too, you cannot know summer without winter.
But know this. Winter is not a good thing. We’re just far enough outside of its icy grip to still remember what it was like, but not so far through the summer that we start to think crazy thoughts like, “I can’t wait for it to be cool enough to wear jeans again, I’m sick of wearing shorts.”
Just look around at the transformation on people’s faces. Where once there were frowns, scowls and general grumpiness, there’s now smiles and joy everywhere you turn.
Even downtown construction can’t wipe the smile off most people’s faces (but maybe give that another week).
Many local lovers of winter outdoorsiness will demure. “But I like to ski/ice-fish/sled/whatever,” they will say. Yes you do. You have to make yourself like something in the winter or you would go mad, so that doesn’t prove anything.
For me it reduces to two very simple observations.
In the summer, if you spend too much time outside, you end up with a healthy glow, a tanned complexion, and maybe a nose tip that needs a little aloe vera sunburn relief.
In the winter, if you spend too much time outside, you end up dead.
It’s the whole being dead vs. being alive thing that really separates winter from summer for me.
I can prove that winter is an ill phenomenon.
How else to explain why otherwise reasonable, intelligent people are causing wildfires across the region? Winter dims one’s mental faculties so much that every spring we need to be reminded of some of the most basic things that by the middle of summer will seem completely obvious.
Last week the fire service had to remind us that burning a pile of really dry stuff in the middle of field of other really, really dry stuff is a bad idea. I learned that when I set myself on fire (briefly) as a kid. I only had to do that once, so impressive was the experience.
But I wouldn’t put it past old man winter to fog my mind of even that foundational experience. I can relate to forgetting the basics, like don’t set the forest on fire.
Of course, this explains why the Nadina fire crew was busy gearing up at Burns Lake HQ long before the snow had melted away. The fire service knows that people forget the important stuff during the winter and that their bodies are rejuvenated by summer weather long before their minds are.
As I write this, the sky is already starting to cloud over and spring rain is in the forecast. That’s just nature’s way of letting summer settle in a bit before we do too much damage.