When I visited North Dakota in the summer of ’04, I found the weather delightful. It would not have been so at the other end of the calendar:
I talked to at least half a dozen Fargonians (if that’s the term) today, generally with kind words for the place, and always with the qualifier: “Of course, this is July. Had I arrived in February, I might think different.” All of them understood, but none took umbrage, and the general impression I got was “Yeah, we have horrible winters, but so what else is new?” Not that Oklahoma in February is particularly wonderful.
Jennifer Finney Boylan, writing in The New York Times, analyzes this mindset:
Most people consider the weather in their hometowns to be part of a cosmic bargain, without which we would all lose our minds. In Maine, the bucolic months of June through October are what we trade for the intense winter and the miserable late spring, also known as Mud Season. Likewise, during my D.C. days, the summer was as hot as an acetylene torch, but it still seemed like a fair price to pay for the jaw-dropping beauty of the cherry blossoms in April.
Walking out an Oklahoma front door in the summer of 2011, or for that matter the summer of 2012, has been the equivalent of volunteering to do a barrel roll or three in a Bessemer converter. Still, these things have a way of balancing themselves out:
In that horrible month of February ’11, I broke my snow shovel; after waiting for the spring price break, I bought one of those not quite industrial-strength, but still formidable-looking, pushers, and dared the stuff to occupy my driveway. Total snowfall for the winter of ’11-’12: 1.8 inches. The thing is standing in the garage, still wrapped. If I thought for a moment this would work again, I’d buy another one.
And Boylan just may be right about this:
The same Ruby Tuesdays and Walmarts might be found from Tulsa, Okla., to Bangor, Me., but the temperament of the souls who live in those cities will always be different, as long as Oklahomans have tornadoes and winter wheat and Mainers have blackflies and aurora borealis.
For myself, well, I could stand a lot more summer days like yesterday: low 65, high 96. (Normal high is 95.) It’s not the 100-plus afternoons that bother me so much; it’s the 80-degree sunrises, with the neighborhood runners sweating at 0530 and wondering what they did to deserve this.