Janet Sheridan: Capricious weather makes columnist long for summer
While rummaging through our piano bench to avoid practicing scales in my piano book for beginners, I discovered two tattered pieces of sheet music with romantic covers and lyrics that fired my imagination and formed my notions about spring.
The cover of “Easter Parade” featured beautiful ladies in lavish gowns and an “Easter bonnet with all the frills upon it” promenading with men in top hats and tails. I ignored the men and dismissed the silly bonnets trailing bird feathers worn by the ladies but studied their dresses and the way they pointed their dainty toes as they sashayed.
The other sheet music was a song of greeting to Lady Spring, who’d come to town, “Lady Spring in dainty gown.” The illustration showed a willowy damsel wearing flowers in her up-swept hair and a gauzy pink dress that floated around her as she frolicked barefoot in a meadow.
As I closed the piano bench, I decided I, too, would be an elegantly gowned young woman sauntering in an Easter parade and running, graceful as a gazelle, across the grassy meadows of spring.
But springtime in the Rockies squelched my dreams. Consistently unpredictable weather forced me to abandon my fantasy of parading in a lacy Easter dress or finding a meadow suitable for barefoot gamboling before June. Instead, I clung to the sad little hope that I could attend Easter church services church without wearing a weary winter coat over my frilly new frock.
Still, I remember a few wondrous springs when a warm sun and clear skies blessed the season and beamed a balmy welcome to Easter. Though Easter parades and grassy meadows had lost their allure, I did enjoy occasionally celebrating the season in a new pastel dress and strappy heels without feeling either silly or cold.
Then I moved to Craig and realized I’d jumped out of unstable spring weather into treacherous weather intent on vengeance. I’ve lived in Craig 20 years, and I still don’t know how to dress when Lady Spring comes calling. It’s difficult to decide what to wear in a season prone to mood swings. Dressing in layers seems like season baiting, but not doing so seems foolhardy. When the days change weather more often than a squirrel flicks its tail, I make poor decisions.
Cloudless skies, a steady sun and trees popping green tempt me outdoors jacketless, sockless, and, evidently, clueless, because 20 minutes later, a cold wind cuts through my short-sleeved shirt, chills me to the bone and sends me scurrying home. I rush indoors, turn up the thermostat, put on a fleece jacket and house slippers, then huddle miserably among my discarded dreams of a romantic spring.
Craig is the only place I’ve lived where I need a four-season wardrobe to make it through spring without suffering both frostbite and heat exhaustion on the same day. I never get dressed in the morning without checking the local weather on my cellphone and consulting Joel, who tires of my unscientific approach: “I know it’s currently 72 degrees and sunny, Joel, but I think I’ll just step outside and see how it feels.” Then, I scrabble through closets, drawers and shoe racks offering an uneasy mix of the mid-weight clothes of autumn, the heavy clothes and boots of winter and the light clothes and sandals of spring turning to summer.
And, no matter what I choose, it’s wrong. Flushed, sweaty and irritable inside a down coat, I push a cart full of groceries among happy people shopping comfortably in shorts and a T-shirt.
Then, in the afternoon, I walk to the library without a jacket — bent over, hugging myself for warmth, watching my toes turn blue — while schoolchildren in hoodies and lace-up shoes move from the sidewalk to the street so they can avoid the old lady scuttling along talking loudly to herself about frolicking an sashaying.
I can’t wait for summer.
Sheridan’s book, “A Seasoned Life Lived in Small Towns,” is available in Craig at Downtown Books and Steamboat Springs at Off the Beaten Path Bookstore. She also blogs at auntbeulah.com on the first and 15th of every month.
So much for the models that predicted a cool, wet summer for us here in western Colorado — at least I think it’s hot this July. Ranchers are probably relieved that it’s been a good haying season, and after the cool spring, it’s nice to have a “normal” summer, but it is indeed hot.