Faith in Vermont: Weather or Not...
So hot, even the dog needed a popsicle....
I have tried to avoid writing about the weather this summer. Growing up, my mother watched the weather forecast the way other people watch the stock market or sports box scores: She hung on every detail, and if the actual weather failed to conform to the forecast, it was met with amazement bordering on disbelief. Despite this exciting first exposure to weather, the climate has always struck me as a dull topic. Most people talk about the weather when they’ve run out of anything else to discuss – with the possible exceptions of religion and politics.
But I’m sorry, I’ve held off long enough and I’m just going to have to do it, because what the HECK has been up with the weather this summer?!?
It was extremely hot, and when it wasn’t hot, it was raining. To say that Vermont’s summer of 2013 was marked by record rainfall and record heat seems like an understatement if you’ve actually lived through it. When people ask how our family’s summer is going, I say something like, “Well, it’s been a little crazy. Our fourth daughter was born in June, and my husband was in Kenya for most of July. We had grandparents staying with us for nearly seven weeks. And THEN there’s been this weather!”
In other words, a newborn baby, an absent husband, and long-term visiting family were nothing compared to what the skies threw at us this year.
Here are a few vignettes from our family’s experience of the hot, wet summer of 2013:
When we purchased our house, we noted that the previous owners had installed a wall air-conditioning unit on the first floor. We then promptly forgot about this unit. It seemed totally unnecessary, because our first two Vermont summers were so manageable, with only a week or two of uncomfortable temperatures. This summer, halfway through a stifling week in late June during which siblings bickered, parents grumbled, and the dog never moved from a “cool” spot on the kitchen tiles, my husband said, “You know, we have that air-conditioner….” We ran the unit for the next three weeks and, having discovered the difference a little air conditioning can make, ended up purchasing a second unit for our daughters’ bedroom.
Discussion of air-conditioning units has prominently featured in almost every conversation I’ve had this summer. During my July book club meeting, more time was devoted to comparing the group members’ various home cooling systems than to actual discussion of the book.
Then there’s the rain. It’s been so wet this summer that our garage’s cement floor had a permanent coating of moisture for two months. The fabric seats of our two strollers, which we keep in the garage, became covered in mold. A weed wacker, placed in the garage overnight, was beaded with water droplets the following morning. All this moisture brought record numbers of mosquitoes. Our daughters are now afraid to venture out in the yard, where they’ll be attacked by swarms of the vicious stingers. “Wading pool!” I exclaim in an attempt to get them outside, “Sprinkler!” They silently stare at me and shake their heads, scratching at the melon-sized red welts dotting their appendages.
Our first summer in Vermont, a friend described the sense of frenzied fun that pervades the season. After months of snow and mud, Vermonters feel a certain panic: “Hurry up! Hurry up! Seize every minute of the sunshine and warmth!” I always start the summer with a list of activities that are best enjoyed in this three-month window: berry picking, feeding the fish at the Salisbury Fish Hatchery, swimming in Lake Dunmore at Branbury State Park, visiting the animals at Shelburne Farms. This year, we’ve barely made a dent in that list – aside from Lake Dunmore, which, on the hottest days, is the most comfortable place to be.
There’s a feeling that the weather has cheated us out of summer. And in my usual calm, non-dramatic way, I fear that this soggy, scorching summer and the past two mild winters are proof that Vermont weather has permanently changed for the warmer. Gone will be snowy winters and mild summers that we dreamed of when we moved here; in another decade. Addison County will feel like Panama.
But there’s hope, because if I’ve learned anything this summer, it’s that babies will eventually be born, even if they’re ten days late, and weather systems will eventually change. The past week has brought the promise of cooler, drier weather. There’s a crispness in the air that presages autumn, the air-conditioning units are dormant, we’re sleeping under the quilt at night, and – best of all – there’s less than a month until school starts!
So I can’t spend any more time talking about the weather; I have to take the girls to the berry farm, Fish Hatchery, and Shelburne Farms. Hurry, hurry!
Faith Gong has worked as an elementary school teacher, a freelance photographer, and a nonprofit manager. Since moving to Addison County in 2011, her work has involved caring for a house in the woods, four young daughters, one anxiety-prone puppy — and writing for her blog, The Pickle Patch.