The other night I made the remark to the office-at-large that summer was half over.
“What do you mean?” they all scoffed. “It’s only June. Summer hasn’t even officially started yet. How can it be half over?”
Easy, I said. They’ve already played two of the four Grand Slam events in golf.
This is true. Of course, the Masters is the first weekend in April, so this is a little bit misleading. The U.S. Open concluded Sunday night; the British Open (haughtily called simply “The Open” across the pond) comes next month; and the PGA Championship occurs in the beginning of August.
That’s it. After the second week of August — at least around here — the slow descent into fall begins.
That’s the way I’ve always seen it. And I wonder how many other people have these kooky barometers for measuring the season. When my son was of Little League age, I saw summer as being over by the middle of July, when all-stars were over and Gallagher Park was deserted.
I’ve also always believed that as goes the Fourth, so goes the summer. The weather we get on July 4 is the predominant pattern we’ll be living with until the middle of August.
The reason for this comes down to at least a half-serious study of meteorology. I know there’s nothing at all scientific to back this up, but prevailing weather patterns last about two months. The weather we got from the beginning of spring to the middle of May, came as the result of the same pattern that brought us all those snowstorms in March.
Ergo, if it’s stiflingly hot on July 4, that’s pretty much what we’re going to see for most of the summer. If it rains on July 4, we’re going to have a wet summer.
I’ve been right about this way more often than I’ve been wrong, much to the chagrin of my loved ones, because I tend to alternately brag about things like this when I actually find the proverbial acorn.
It’s interesting, though, the way different people see the seasons. You’ve all likely seen the meme that keeps going around that there are only two seasons in New England: winter and construction. It’s true. It’s difficult to dig up the streets when they’re covered with two feet of snow, so you don’t do it unless an emergency leaves you no choice. But come the end March and lasting through November, all those public works projects that are put on hold for four months have to get done. All of a sudden, every road in the area is covered with orange barrels and orange cones; there’s a police officer at every intersection guiding cars around massive pieces of earth-moving equipment, and angry drivers up and down the street screaming and cursing.
And that, my friends, is when you know it’s really summer.
Myself? I measure the seasons quite simply. Winter starts the day we turn the clocks back and ends when we turn them ahead. And one of the funniest things I ever read was a letter from someone who said that the snow doesn’t stay around as long in March because Daylight Savings Time makes the weather warmer later in the day.
Perhaps it’s because we live in an area where we’re starved for warmth and sunlight that we only have these benchmarks in the summer. Nobody ever goes around saying “Thanksgiving — the first big weekend of winter.” Maybe that’s because nobody wants to face up to the fact that the most wretched three months of the year are looming large on the horizon. Or maybe it’s because most people think of Thanksgiving as the time to break out the heavy artillery to do battle at the shopping malls on Black Friday.
But I have my own benchmarks. For example, my official halfway point of winter is the Beanpot Hockey Tournament, in early February. I’ve always said that the minute Northeastern loses, winter’s officially half over. Only Northeastern didn’t lose this year, which is probably why winter lasted halfway into April.
I also remarked at a party once that living in New England was difficult because winter always hung around to the point where it took up the entire first month of spring. To which a man from Mississippi replied, “Gee, that’s what happens to us with summer. It hangs around forever.”
Now this is a matter of perspective. Having experienced 64 winters up here, I’d welcome a summer that hung around until the middle of October. The only two times I’ve ever had that experience were because I went on cruises.
This year, the summer solstice — the point when the sun is highest in the sky, and the date we generally acknowledge to the the first official day of summer — is at 6:07 a.m. on June 21, which is Thursday morning.
See? Despite what I said earlier, summer hasn’t even begun yet.