While covering Friday’s ribbon-cutting program for the refurbished playground at Riverside Park, and finding myself covered in perspiration all along the way, I was reminded once again of a undeniable fact: I hate summer.
Hate is perhaps too mild a word, since there is nothing mild about the season itself. It might be more accurate to say that I absolutely despise, detest and loathe just about everything regarding this dreaded June-to-September period. And the saddest part of all is that this summer is only about 10 days old, yet already I am sick of it and dogged to death by the Dog Days.
Since the title of my column today is a reference to classic literature (the first line of the Shakespeare play, “Richard III,” which is “Now is the winter of our discontent”), I’d also like to steal from the poet Elizabeth Barrett Browning. She wrote the immortal lines, “How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.”
I would paraphrase that to describe my feelings about summer: “How do I hate thee? Let me count the ways.”
So here goes:
• First, I realize that I am probably in the minority of people who prefer winter to summer, which also points to one of the things I hate about summer. You can’t even say that without a dozen people jumping down your throat to tell you how much they love this abominable time of year and how they hate snow, thought it might occur only once or twice the whole winter. (A lot of this is probably due to the fact some folks just want to argue with or be different from you, even when it makes no sense.)
• Not only is the weather miserable, what with its searing temperatures and their first cousin high humidity, it also is unpredictable. How many times have you noticed a clear blue sky one minute, only to be caught in a violent thunderstorm or monsoon a half-hour later? When it comes to outdoor activities, the only thing you can plan on is not being able to plan anything.
Friday’s ribbon cutting for the playground began at 9 a.m., but it already was hot and humid. Then I come straight back into the office, where it’s like a deep freeze in comparison due to the need for the air conditioning to be kept on the cold side to accommodate our computer servers.
After I recover from that shock to the system, I realize how cooler temps are much more preferable to me than hot temps sometimes resembling those of Death Valley. In the wintertime, at least you can put another blanket on the bed to make it cozier or wear a heavier jacket if you’re cold.
In summer, you can only take off so many clothes to escape the heat — all in all, it’s much easier to stay warm than cool. It’s one thing if you’re working outside or otherwise exerting yourself, but even if you do nothing but sit, you’re still going to sweat.
• And speaking of work, summer also requires constant yard mowing, especially with the rain-forest conditions we’ve seen here the past few years.
• Kids are everywhere in summer. During the other nine months of the year, they are sequestered in schools as the Good Lord intended. But now they are clogging the lines at every fast-food restaurant as their indecisive little minds try to figure out what they want.
• Sports suck at this time of year, in my opinion. The only choices you really have are baseball (bo-ring!) and NASCAR (maybe not as boring, but definitely less interesting than it once was). Around this time of year, I begin longing for the return of football and counting down the days until the first kickoff.
• Bugs, i.e. gnats, mosquitoes, flies and bees, are everywhere during the summer — outside, inside, there just seems to be no escape from those little pests that bite you, get into your food, etc.
• Smelly people (or the deodorant-challenged, if you want to be politically correct about it) are abundant, coming to an armpit near you.
• And why is it that some of the most-formal occasions of all occur during the hotter months, such as graduation exercises or weddings, when people are forced to wear coats, ties or gowns?
• Last but not least, summer includes the Fourth of July, which comes on Monday, of course.
If events such as fireworks shows or parades aren’t plagued by incessant summer showers as they most always are, we can stand outside in the sun and celebrate being ‘Mericans as we die from heat stroke.
Tom Joyce is a staff writer for The Mount Airy News. He may be reached at 336-415-4693 or on Twitter @Me_Reporter.